St. Catherine of Alexandria

It is very curious and interesting that this hermitage is dedicated to the cult of a saint dear above all to the Eastern world: Saint Catherine of Alexandria of Egypt.

Saint Catherine of Alexandria of EgyptIt’s something that tells us how the East is not so far from these Lombard places, so closely affected by the passage of pilgrims and soldiers, perhaps returning from the Crusades or some adventurous journey of faith to the places of the Holy Land.

The legend of Catherine, whose historicity is doubtful, brings us back to the persecutions against Christians in the 4th century AD.

It is said that she was a noble girl of rare beauty, kindness and culture, dedicated to studies and philosophy, in the city home to the most famous library of antiquity: Alexandria in Egypt.

During a public celebration to the pagan gods Catherine refuses to worship because she is a Christian; Emperor Maxentius, fascinated by her beauty, then tried to get her to be convinced by the wise men of the court, but it was the latter who converted, convinced by the young woman's arguments.

Then the Emperor imprisons her, and keeps her locked up for 12 days without bread or water.

In this period Catherine didn’t give up, and she also encouraged the conversion of the Empress Basilissa, of Captain Porphyry and of 200 soldiers of the royal guards.

Maxentius subjects her to the torture of the toothed wheel (an object that today makes her recognizable in her iconographic representations). Thanks to the intervention of an angel, the girl is saved, but at this point the emperor orders that she will be beheaded. This is how the examining body of the Saint is transported by the angels to the Monastery of Mount Sinai.

In the eleventh century the relics were transferred to Rouen by a Sinaite monk and placed in the Abbey of SS. Trinity (which later took the name of the Saint).

Many artists were inspired by his figure: among the many we mention among the most famous Masolino, Caravaggio, Tintoretto and Correggio; the images that represent it always show the wide toga of the philosophers, the wheel and the sword, the palm symbol of martyrdom and the book of wisdom.

From the thirteenth century she is considered the patroness of philosophers.

The liturgical memory of Saint Catherine of Alexandria is celebrated on 25 November, the same date is dedicated to Saint Basilissa (Augusta) approached by Catherine to the Christian religion.