Catharine, the name of several so-called saints of the Greek and Roman churches.
1. A martyr, who suffered at Alexandria under Maximin II. The Greek and Roman accounts, which are not at all to be depended on, state that she was a rich and noble lady, who, having entered upon a disputation with certain heathen philosophers at the command of Maximin, and vanquished and converted them to the faith, was, together with them, put to death. She is said to have been put upon an engine made of wheels armed with spikes to lacerate her body, but when the machine was put into motion her bonds were miraculously broken, but she was immediately beheaded. Hence the name of Catharine-wheel. Eusebius (Eccl. Hist. 8:14) speaks of a famous Alexandrian woman, who, when other women of the city yielded to the lust of the tyrant Maximin, resolutely resisted and overcame him, for which she was punished with exile and the loss of all her property. Joseph Assemanni thinks that this is the only account of St. Catharine that can be depended on. Her remains are said to be still kept in a marble chest in the monastery of Mount Sinai, in Arabia (Pocock's Travels, 1:140, fol.). She is commemorated on Nov. 25. — Butler, Lives of Saints, Nov. 25; Landon, Eccl. Dict. s.v.
2. Of Sweden, a princess, born about 1330, who, being contracted in marriage to a young nobleman named Egard, persuaded him to join her in making a vow of perpetual chastity! She died abbess of the monastery of Vatzen, March 24, 1381. — Butler, Lives of Saints, Nov. 22; Landon, Ecclesiastes Dictionary, s.v.
3. Of Sienna, was born at Sienna in 1347, and early devoted herself to an austere life. In 1365 she received the habit of the third order of St. Dominic, and soon became celebrated for her recluse life, revelations, and miraculous powers of conversion! She induced Pope Gregory XI to restore the pontifical throne to Rome from Avignon. She used all her efforts to cause Urban VI to be recognized as the lawful successor of Gregory. She died April 29, 1380. Pius II published the bull for her canonization June 29, 1461, and her festival is observed on April 30. — A. Butler, Lives of Saints, April 30; Chavin, Vie de St. Catharine (1846); Landon, Ecclesiastes Dictionary, s.v.
4. Of Bologna, born of noble parents Sept. 8, 1413.
In 1427 she entered among the nuns of St. Francis at Ferrara, who soon after adopted the severe rule of St. Clare. Afterwards she became abbess of a new convent of the order in Bologna. She is said by Roman writers to have had the gifts of prophecy and miracles! She died March 9, 1463, on which day she is commemorated. A spurious book of her Revelations was published at Bologna in 1511. —Butler, Lives of Saints, March 9.
5. Of Genoa, daughter of James Fieschi, viceroy of Naples, was born at Genoa in 1448, and at about sixteen was married, against her will, to a gay young profligate named Julius Adorna, who for many years caused her the greatest affliction. Being left a widow, she devoted herself to the care of the sick and poor. She died Sept. 14, 1510, leaving a few works of devotion. — Butler, Lives of Saints, Sept. 14; Upham, Life of Cath. Adorna (N. Y. 1856, 12mo).
6. Of Ricci, was born at Florence in 1522. In 1535 she took the veil among the Dominican nuns at Prato, in Tuscany. She was made perpetual prioress at twenty-five, on account of her sanctity and ascetic life. The Bollandists say that Philip of Neri was allowed to converse with her in a vision, she being at her convent and he at Rome! She died Feb. 2, 1589, and was canonized in 1746. — Butler, Lives of Saints, Feb. 14.