TODAY is the feast of St Catherine the Great Martyr, a princess of Alexandria in Egypt at the turn of the 4th century.
The Roman Emperor Maximinus conceived an uncontrollable passion for the young Catherine. When she refused him, declaring herself to be the bride of Christ alone, he seized her family property and imprisoned her.
Scholars sent to debate her were confounded, and unexpectedly turned to Christ. Maximinus’s wife was intrigued by her rival, but she too was won over by Catherine. Maximinus had all of them put to death in AD 305.
AS if it were an alabaster casket of sweet spices, thou didst offer thy blood unto Christ thy Bridegroom, O Catherine, undefeated champion; and in turn thou didst receive from him an incorruptible crown, wondrous saint. So it was, that thou didst blunt the insolence of eloquent men, and draw them to divine knowledge, and with the wise queen they were adorned with the crown of martyrdom; therefore, intercede with Christ God, that our souls may be saved.
Today is also the Apodosis or Leave-taking of the Feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple.
TODAY the Temple which held God within her, the Theotokos, is led into the Temple of the Lord, and Zachariah receives her. Today the Holy of Holies is glad, and the choir of angels mystically keepeth feast. Celebrating with them today, let us too cry out with Gabriel: Rejoice, O full of grace, the Lord is with thee, he who disposeth the Great Mercy.
Beneath thy tender mercy, O Theotokos,
We flee for refuge.
Do not disregard our petitions
In this time of trouble,
But deliver us from out of perils,
Only pure, only blessed Lady.
(3rd century AD)