The Story of St. Catherine of Alexandria
Although the exact reasons why the City of St. Catharines was originally called by this name remain in doubt there can be no doubt about the strong affection the Catholics of the Cathedral and Diocese of St. Catharines feel towards their patron saint. The presence of the Catherine Wheel of torture has always figured prominently in the insignia of the Cathedral and the Diocese.
A citizen of Alexandria Egypt St. Catherine died around 310 A.D. in one of the persecutions of Christians that were so common in the Roman Empire. She refused to renounce her Christian faith and in her trials she converted many to Christianity. She was tortured on a spiked wheel which broke miraculously when she was placed upon it. Hence the broken Catherine Wheel in church symbolism. Eventually she was beheaded and her body is reputedly buried in a monastery on Mount Sinai.
St. Catherine was one of the voices that spoke to St. Joan of Arc and St. Catherine has always been a particularly popular saint among the people of France. Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys brought over from France to Quebec the tradition of special celebrations on St. Catherine’s Day November 25th of each year. In the Province of Quebec St. Catherine’s Feast is still celebrated as the special day for unmarried women. For the children there is taffy candy as in our Halloween. Whatever the customs that have grown up around her cult she remains the patroness of maidens philosophers and preachers and of the Cathedral and Diocese of St. Catharines. St. Catherine pray for us!