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Born to nobility, St. Catherine of Alexandria is a virgin martyr who is patron saint of preachers and philosophers. Her feast day is Nov. 25. She converted following a vision and denounced Maxentius, the ruler. Successfully debating pagan philosophers when she was 18, many converted to Christianity and were martyred.

Maxentius ordered Catherine broken by the wheel, but she somehow destroyed the wheel with her touch, Undeterred, the ruler had her beheaded in 305. She was revered throughout Western Europe during the Middle Ages. Joan of Arc claimed her as an inspiration.

Catherine is followed as one of the Catholic Church’s 14 Holy Helpers. While her feast day was removed from the General Roman Calendar by the Church in 1969, she continued to be honored in the Roman Martyrology with her feast day restored in 2002 as optional. Her main symbol is the spoked wheel, also called the Catherine wheel.

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