Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Saint Catherine the Great Martyr




Saint Catherine (Greek : Αγία Αικατερίνα < αιέν + καθαρή = always pure) was born in Alexandria of Egypt at AD 294. She was coming from one of the richest families and her father was a Ptolemy, a descendant of Alexander the Great. From young age, she showed a huge interest in studying the classical Greek writers and at the age of 15 she was already one of the most educated person.
At the next two years, she came in contact with the teachings of the great philosophers as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Heraclitus and others and also the prophecies of the Sibyls. Studying the monotheistic teachings of philosophers and reading the Sibyls' prophecies about Jesus Christ, she decided to become Christian, something that was extremely dangerous that period, since the Emperor of the Roman Empire was Maxentius (or Maximinus for some others, here, the word Maxentius will be used as his name), a pagan Roman emperor and one of the many sworn enemies of Christianity. He ordered her execution some years later after realizing that she would never change her faith, with the method of decapitation.

HOW CAN I MAKE HIM SEE ME?

Saint Catherine, apart from a very educated woman, she was also very beautiful. Before she becomes a Christian, many men admiring her inner and outer beauty of hers, asked for her hand in marriage but she was kindly refusing to all of them, deciding to stay virgin for all her life. Her mother was pushing her to get married and after seeing that this wasn't easy to happen because of her refusal, she sent her to a wise, old man so he would advise her that marriage is the best for her at this age. The man asked her why she didn't want to get married and Saint Catherine replied to him because her mother was always saying to her that she is the most beautiful, smartest and richest woman, she would get married only if there was a man who was more beautiful, richer, or smarter than her.

The wise man replied :
- Oh, but there is someone who is more beautiful, smarter and richer than you! He is actually the most beautiful of all, the smartest and the richest.

Saint Catherine was impressed and told him that she wanted to meet this person. The old man, hearing that, gave her an Icon of Virgin Mary holding Jesus and told her that at night she would meet the person.

When Saint Catherine fell asleep, she dreamed Virgin Mary holding Baby Jesus looking at her, but the Baby was looking at His Mother and not at her.

So Virgin Mary said :
- My Son, why don't you look at this beautiful young lady?

Jesus replied :
- She is not beautiful, her soul is dark! I will look at her when her soul is bright. 

Saint Catherine quickly woke up and being worried about her dream, went to the old man and told him what happened. She also told him, that now she was sure that He is the real God, and all those books and ancient prophecies she read about Him are correct, but she asked ''He still doesn't want to look at me, even now i do believe in Him, what is left to do? How can i make him see me?''

The wise, old man told her that she needs to be baptized, and officially become a Christian.
Saint Catherine agreed, and the man baptized her.

Next night, Virgin Mary holding Baby Jesus appeared at her dream again.

And Virgin Mary said :

- What you think about the lady now, my Son?

Jesus, by turning His head to look at her, replied :

- Yes, now her soul is bright! She is reborn! Now i can see how good person she is.

Hearing all these, Saint Catherine said with tears at her eyes :

I don't deserve to hear such good things from the God. I am full of sins but please let me follow You. Now i know You are the most beautiful of all, because You are the real God.

Virgin Mary, grabbing Saint Catherine's hand said :

So, my Son, give her the ring and save her soul. Make her a citizen of Your Eternal Kingdom.

And Jesus replied :

You said you would get married only if you were finding someone who is more beautiful than you and then you said I'm the most beautiful. So take this ring that shows our Spiritual Wedding. Stay loyal to Me as you would be to a worldly husband.




HER MISSION STARTS 

Saint Catherine woke up and saw that at her finger there was a ring. She was determined that all this wasn't just a dream. She started reading more books that were talking about Jesus life, she was doing only good acts and helping as many people as possible. She was talking about Jesus to people who had never heard of Him, she was teaching poor people for free and giving money to anyone who needed it.

Maxentius, learning that a Christian does such things, ordered his army to arrest her and bring her to palace. After some days, soldiers arrested her and brought her in front of the brutal emperor, an emperor that had killed already more than one hundred thousand Christians! Saint Catherine was brave, waiting emperor's decision about her life. Maxentius, surprisingly, didn't order a death penalty for her, but having in mind that she would agree to become his next wife, asked her to stop believing in Jesus and as a reward he would give her the half kingdom. Saint Catherine refused, and Maxentius said :

- I won't kill you yet, i want to embarrass you first! I know some people say you are educated and you talk about Your God with clues, but i will bring tomorrow the best 100 orators and philosophers of my kingdom and they will destroy your arguments in a public debate so everyone will see that your God is a lie.

Saint Catherine agreed, and was sent in jail until next day's public debate. While she was sleeping, Archangel Michael appeared and told her what arguments to use for the debate.

Next day, the debate started. The 100 most skillful orators of the kingdom started talking about pagans' gods. Everyone was clapping and Maxentius was sure that Saint Catherine wouldn't be able to have such a good speech.

When it was Saint Catherine's turn, she said :



- How can you believe in some animal statues? You pretend to be the successors of the great Greek philosophers, but you haven't study them. What Socrates would say if he was watching you worship such statues? Don't you know the One God of Plato? The One Creator of all of Heraclitus? You have never read what is Aristotle's and Plutarch's opinion about the pagan gods? Have you ever study any philosopher or you just say you have? 
And what about the Sibyls' prophecies? Never heard of them? Don't you know that Sibyls talk about the One God, about Jesus birth, about the Second Coming of Jesus?
But forget all those, i saw you worship Apollo among others. I will only use the words of your god in Delphi when someone asked who is the God? This is what your god Apollo said, the last words of the Delphic Oracle : Christ is my God, He who will suffer on The Cross, He who will Resurrect and go at the Sky.


WARNING : the next paragraphs will contain violent photos and information about tortures that some may not feel comfortable to read


THE SUFFERING 

The orators couldn't believe what they just heard. The leader of the orators yelled:

- She is right! Look at the original ancient texts! Enough with the lies. Jesus is the real God!

The rest orators said :

- Thank you for opening our eyes! We will follow Jesus!

And soldiers :

- Enough with your lies Maxentius, we will become soldiers of Jesus! He is our God!

And simple citizens :

- Did you hear Maxentius? Jesus is our God, We want to become Christians!

Maxentius, shaking with anger, ordered his loyal generals to close their ears, arrest everyone and burn them for punishment!

Saint Catherine said :

- Do not be afraid, you are Martyrs! They will burn your body but your souls will live forever in Heaven!

That day the 100 orators, 200 soldiers and round 1000 citizens were burnt because of their decision to believe in Jesus.



SAINT CATHERINE'S FATE 

Maxentius took it personally. He wanted to make Saint Catherine suffer a lot! He ordered his generals to continue hitting her until she wouldn't be able to move.
Saint Catherine remained brave, she was only praying to Jesus for the people who just died. He then ordered to remove her clothes and start carving her body with knives. Her beautiful body now was full with wounds. The pain was very much, but her faith was too strong. Nothing would make her to stop believing in Jesus.

Maxentius then said :

- This is your last chance, no one can survive from the last torture! Betray Jesus now and you will be my next legal wife, you will have anything you want! You will have my kingdom!

Saint Catherine didn't reply and only kept praying.

Maxentius ordered to put her at the great wheel. Great wheel was a torturing machine. Ιt contained big, sharp blades and as the wheel was moving, the blades were cutting the body of the person who was tied at the wheel until the person dies from bleeding.

When Saint Catherine was tied at the wheel, suddenly the wheel couldn't be moved. Maxentius ordered more people to come and try to make the wheel move. When they managed to make it work, angels appeared and every time Saint Catherine's body was approaching a blade, the angels were throwing down the blade and her body wasn't getting injured from the wheel's blades.



The generals, watching this miracle, stopped and decided to become Christians. Maxentius, shaking but because of terror this time, killed his generals. Agustina, Maxentius's wife, watching all these decided to be Christian also! Maxentius got a sword and cut Agustina's breasts as a punishment for her decision and later cut her head off after Agustina's words that no matter what, she wanted to become Christian.

He then grabbed Saint Catherine and took her to the main square of the city. He was ready to cut her head off and give an end to all these. Saint Catherine prayed and said :

- Jesus, after my death, please make my dead body invisible from them so they won't burn it. Whoever wants my help, i will use this body and come to help him!

Maxentius ordered the executioner to do it, and that's what happened.


When her head fell down, instead of blood, a white liquid like milk came out. After some seconds her body disappeared. Angels came, took it and placed it at the top of Mount Sinai so it would be safe from the blasphemes. Whoever asks for her help, she will use it to help him.



Saint Catherine is the protector of students, virgin women, engineers and others and the Saint Protector of Katerini, a city in Central Macedonia, Greece.
Her feast day for Christian Orthodoxes is at November 25.