From the tenth century onwards veneration for St. Catherine of Alexandria has been widespread in the Church of the East, and from the time of the Crusades this saint has been popular in the West, where many churches have been dedicated to her and her feast day kept with great solemnity, sometimes as a holy-day of obligation. She is listed as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers of mankind among the saints in Heaven; she is the patroness of young women, philosophers, preachers, theologians, wheelwrights, millers, and other workingmen. She was said to have appeared with Our Lady to St. Dominic and to Blessed Reginald of Orleans; the Dominicans adopted her as their special protectress. Hers was one of the heavenly voices heard by St. Joan of Arc.Fr. Mark has a magnificent post about this great saint, who was removed from the Roman Calendar but has been put back again. To quote:
Artists have painted her with her chief emblem, the wheel, on which by tradition she was tortured; other emblems are a lamb and a sword. Her name continues to be cherished today by the young unmarried women of Paris.
Saint Catherine of Alexandria vanished from the reformed Roman Calendar in the reform of 1969 and, Deo gratias, reappeared in 2002. Why? Part of the answer can be found, I think, by comparing the lovely old Collect for Saint Catherine with the one newly composed for the 2002 edition of the Roman Missal. In the traditional liturgy, which we celebrate here at Silverstream Priory, on November 25th the Church prays:
O God Who gavest the Law to Moses on the summit of Mount Sinai,
and didst miraculously place the body of Thy blessed virgin-martyr Catherine in the selfsame spot by the ministry of Thy holy angels,
grant, we beseech Thee, that her merits and pleadings
may enable us to reach the mountain which is Christ.
The Collect focuses on the image of Mount Sinai, the sacred mountain which prefigures Christ himself. The first phrase of the prayer takes up Exodus 31:18, the inspiration of the Great O Antiphon that we will be singing on December 18th:
O ADONAI, and Ruler of the House of Israel, who appeared unto Moses in the burning bush and gave him the Law on the summit of Sinai: come to redeem us with an outstretched arm!(Read more.)