The New International Encyclopædia/Catharine
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|Edition of 1905. See also Catherine of Alexandria, Catherine of Siena and Catherine of Genoa on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.|
CATH'ARINE (Fr. Catherine, Lat. Catharina, Gk. Kαθαρίνη, Katharinē, from καθαρὀς, katharos, pure). The name of six saints of the Roman Catholic Church. The simple designation of Saint Catharine, however, is given to a virgin said to have been of royal descent in Alexandria, who, publicly confessing Christianity at a sacrificial feast appointed by the Emperor Maximinus, was put to death in A.D. 307, after being tortured on a wheel. Hence the name of ‘Saint Catharine's wheel.’ Very remarkable legends exist as to her converting 50 philosophers sent by the Emperor to convert her in prison, besides a multitide of other persons; the conveyance of her head by the angels to Mount Sinai, etc. She is regarded as the patroness of girls' schools. Her day is November 25 or March 5. (See her life in the publications of the Early English Text Society; also in those of the Roxburghe Club, both London, 1884). — Saint Catharine of Siena, daughter of Jacomo Benineasa, a dyer of Siena, was born there in 1347; practiced extraordinary mortifications, and was said to have been favored with especial tokens of favor by Christ, whose wounds were impressed upon her body. (See Stigmatization). She became a Dominican, and died in Rome, April 29, 1380. She wrote devotional pieces, letters, and poems, which have been more than once printed; the best edition appeared in Siena and Lucca, in 1707-54 (in 5 vols., 4to), under the title of Opere della serafica Santa Catarina. Her letters were published in French translation (Paris, 1854; best in the original, Florence, 1860, 4 vols.). In English have appeared Dialogues of the Seraphic Virgin Catherine of Siena (London, 1896); the dialogue De Perfectione is translated in Miss Drane's biography mentioned below. Consult her life by J. E. Butler, 4th ed. (London, 1895); Augusta I. Drane (London, 1880); M. A. Mignety (Paris, 1886); A. T. Pierson (New York. 1898); H. V. Redern (Schwerin, 1900).
Saint Catharine of Genoa was born in 1447 of the distinguished Genoese family Fieschi. Her father was viceroy of Naples under René of Anjou. She was very beautiful. Her own wish was to become a nun, but her parents gave her in marriage to a Genoese nobleman, Giuliano Adorno (January 13, 1463), in order to heal the breach which had come between the two families. Her married life was unhappy, and she suffered much not only from her husband's personal treatment, but from his extravagance and licentiousness. At last bankruptcy overtook him and they were reduced to poverty. Then her spiritual nature showed itself. She started on a career of philanthropy as nurse (1479), and from 1491 to 1497 was chief nurse in a great hospital. Her husband was converted through her influence, entered the third order of Saint Francis, and joined her in charitable labors. Her ascetic piety was extraordinary. It is said that from 1478 to 1500 she fasted all Advent and all Lent, and took no nourishment of any kind, but drank water mingled with vinegar and salt. She died September 15, 1510, having won so high a reputation for piety that Pope Clement XII. canonized her in 1737; and Benedict XIV. put her in the Martyrology under March 22d; but in the Acta Sanctorum she is found under September 5th. She had many ardent disciples and one of them wrote from her lips, in Italian, The Treatise on Purgatory (English trans., London, 1878). Her life, written by T. de Bussierce, prefaced a French translation of her works (Paris, 1860). Saint Catharine of Bologna and Saint Catharine of Sweden (1331-81), the fourth daughter of Saint Birgitta (or Bridget) of Sweden, are of less note.