A look at some of the history and holidays on November 25
Feast of Catherine of Alexandria, born a Princess in the 4th century, she was a scholar who converted to Christianity at age 14. She converted hundreds of others to the faith over the next several years. In her 18th year, the pagan Roman Emperor, Maximinus, began a persecution of Christians. Catherine presented herself before the Emperor and upbraided him for worshiping false gods. The Catholic Encyclopedia tells the rest of the legend:
Astounded at the young girl’s audacity, but incompetent to vie with her in point of learning the tyrant detained her in his palace and summoned numerous scholars whom he commanded to use all their skill in specious reasoning that thereby Catherine might be led to apostatize. But she emerged from the debate victorious. Several of her adversaries, conquered by her eloquence, declared themselves Christians and were at once put to death. Furious at being baffled, Maximinus had Catherine scourged and then imprisoned. Meanwhile the empress, eager to see so extraordinary a young woman, went with Porphyry, the head of the troops, to visit her in her dungeon, when they in turn yielded to Catherine’s exhortations, believed, were baptized, and immediately won the martyr’s crown. Soon afterwards the saint, who far from forsaking her Faith, effected so many conversions, was condemned to die on the wheel, but, at her touch, this instrument of torture was miraculously destroyed. The emperor, enraged beyond control, then had her beheaded and angels carried her body to Mount Sinai where later a church and monastery were built in her honour.
As the author notes, most of what we know about Catherine is based on fantastical texts that were written to impress an audience, not to recount facts. As to her burial, the church and monastery built in her honor and housing her remains and relics is the famous St. Catherine’s Monastery, built circa 550 A.D. in the Sinai desert of Egypt, and since visited by Ms. BWR, though don’t ask to see her pictures.
St. Catherine of Alexandria became a major figure of worship in the medieval Church. “Numberless chapels” were dedicated to her and “her statue was found in nearly all churches.” Moreover, Joan of Arc claimed to have had a vision of Catherine who appeared to advise Joan in her mission to drive the English out of France during the Hundred Years War. She came to be the patron saint of young maidens, female students, lawyers, and all who work with a wheel.
571 BC – Servius Tullius, king of Rome, celebrates a triumph.
It was common throughout the history of ancient Rome for military leaders, upon their return form a successful battle or campaign, to celebrate “a triumph” — feasting and a parade through Rome. On this date in 571 B.C., the Roman King Servius celebrated a triumph for his defeat of the neighboring Etruscans.
Before Rome became an empire, it was a Republic. And before that, it was a monarchy struggling for its existence among powerful competitors in Italy. During the monarchy, One of Rome’s most important Kings was Servius Tullius. Militarily, he expanded Roman territory, defeating the Etruscans and Veii. In terms of administration, he built several temples and is credited with establishing Rome’s first coinage. Politically, he was a populist who expanded the voting franchise to plebs and instituted the “Servian Reforms” that gave the common man more of a say in governing the nation. These reforms set the stage for the Roman Republic that sprang into existence within three decades after Servius Tullius was assassinated in 535 B.C. by his son-in-law, concluding a 44 year reign.