Saint Catherine of Alexandria is believed to have been born of a noble family. She became a Christian around the age of 14 and converted hundreds of people to Christianity. She was martyred in the early 4th century at the hands of the Emperor Maxentius for refusing to deny her faith. She was condemned to die on a spiked wheel, and when the wheel broke upon her touch, she was beheaded. She became known as St Catherine of the Wheel. The Catherine wheel firework, from which sparks fly off in all directions, took its name from her wheel of martyrdom.
More than 1,100 years following her martyrdom, St Joan of Arc identified St Catherine as one of the saints who appeared to her and counselled her.
We celebrate St Catherine's feast day on 25th November.
St. Catharine's College Cambridge was founded on St Catherine’s Day 1473 and its heraldic shield is the Catherine wheel. An image of St Catherine is captured in stained glass in the chapel and a Catherine wheel forms part of the wrought iron college railings.
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