Catherine of Alexandria is a Christian saint and virgin, who was martyred in the early fourth century at the hands of the emperor Maxentius. She was both a princess and a noted scholar who became a Christian around the age of 14, converted hundreds of people to Christianity and was martyred around the age of eighteen. More than 1,100 years after Catherine’s martyrdom, Joan of Arc identified her as one of the saints who appeared to and counselled her. When the persecutions began under Maxentius, she went to the emperor and rebuked him for his cruelty. The emperor summoned 50 of the best pagan philosophers and orators to dispute with her, hoping that they would refute her pro-Christian arguments, but Catherine won the debate. Several of her adversaries, conquered by her eloquence, declared themselves Christians and were at once put to death. The emperor gave orders to subject the saint to terrible tortures and then throw her in prison. During the confinement she was fed daily by a dove from heaven and Christ also visited her, encouraging her to fight bravely, and promised her the crown of everlasting glory. Angels tended her wounds with salve.
Upon the failure of Maxentius to make Catherine yield by way of torture, he tried to win the beautiful and wise princess over by proposing marriage. Catherine refused, declaring that her spouse was Jesus Christ, to whom she had consecrated her virginity.
The furious emperor condemned Catherine to death on a spiked breaking wheel, but, at her touch, it shattered. Maxentius ordered her to be beheaded. Catherine herself ordered the execution to commence. A milk-like substance rather than blood flowed from her neck