Today is the only saints day I remember: that of St Catherine.
And I’d criticise the spelling of her name, though I suspect she didn’t often write it herself. I do get quite obsessed with Catharines, or Catherines. Or Kathryns, Katharines or Katherines. Or, sometimes, Kates.
Like so many Christian martyrs, St Catherine of Alexandria is famous for her death. In life, she was a princess and a scholar, who devoted her life to Jesus. Imprisoned for her beliefs, she was tortured but held fast: many who were in touch with her were converted to Christianity and (pleasant man, the Emperor) put to death. As she wouldn’t give herself to Emperor Maxentius, he condemned her to death on a spiked breaking wheel, but it broke on her touch. In desperation he ended up beheading her.
It is because of St Catherine of Alexandria that we have named the Catherine Wheel: a firework that spins. (They’re my favourite firework too.)
She is not the only St Catherine, of course. There is also St Catherine of Siena, one of the patron saints of Italy (the other being St Francis of Assisi). I came upon her tomb by chance when we were travelling in Rome. All of her, that is, except her head and thumb, which were removed and taken to Siena. Don’t you love the logic of holy relics? Her saints day is 29 April: maybe I should have another party then.
There’s also St Catherine of Vadstena, Genoa, Bologna or Ricci. And a few others, including a St Katharine (getting closer to my spelling?), who died in 1955 and is the only US-born saint.
Her day is 3 March. By my reckoning I could have a Saints Day party on 13 February, 3 March, 9 March, 24 March, 17 April, 29 April, 15 September, 25 November, 28 November, 28 December and 31 December. Looks a little quiet during the summer months…
I did ask my husband last night what he’d bought me in celebration of my saints day. “The same as you bought me for mine,” he said.