Tuesday, November 25, 2014

St. Catherine of Alexandria, M., III Class

Today, in the 1962 Dominican Rite Calendar, we celebrate the feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr.  The feast is III Class and therefore the ordinary office is prayed according to the rubrics.

There are a number of non Dominican saints whose feast days are, nevertheless, "emphasized" on the liturgical calendar of the Order of Preachers.  Examples of these are St. Augustine, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Mary Magdalene.  One such saint is the illustrious philosopher and virgin, who shed her blood for the Truth, St. Catherine of Alexandria.

In times past, her feast was celebrated as a totum duplex feast, making approximately it equivalent to a 1st Class Feast in the 1961 rubrics.  A commemoration was made of the octave of her feast day on December 2. 

In that office, the super psalm antiphon at 1st Vespers was:
Hail! 0 Catherine, thou gem of virgins. Hail! 0 glorious spouse of the King of virgins.
 Her office was anticipated yesterday at Pretiosa, as follows:
At Alexandria, St. Catherine, virgin and martyr. In the reign of the Emperor Maximian, she was cast into prison for confessing the Christian faith. Then she was flogged for a long time with scorpions, and finally completed her martytdom by being beheaded. Her body was miraculously carried by angels to Mount Sinai, and is there piously venerated by huge gatherings of Christians.
Undoubtedly, her reputation as someone who was devoted to studying the truths of the Catholic faith, and her bold attempts to evangelize a corrupt emperor, ultimately leading to her death, no doubt contributes to her being seen as a role model for a religious order devoted to study and preaching.  Although she is not officially a "protectress" of the Order, like St. Mary Magdalene, she is, nevertheless, venerated as one of the saints to whom Dominican should turn to in prayer, especially those who are studying philosophy.

From “Short Lives of the Dominican Saints” (London, Kegan Paul, Trench, and Trübner & Co., Ltd., 1901):

St. Catherine of Alexandria Monastery, Egypt.
In consequence of her extraordinary learning, Saint Catharine is regarded as the patroness of Christian philosophy: and this circumstance, taken in connection with her successful apostolate for souls, is doubtless the main cause of her being considered as a special Protectress of the Order of Preachers, which glories in the name of the Order of Truth and has ever been distinguished alike for its eminent learning and its zeal for souls. The Saint has herself deigned on several occasions to manifest a particular interest in the children of Saint Dominic, as the lives of their Saints testify. To mention but three instances. It was she who, together with Saint Cecilia, accompanied our Blessed Lady when she anointed Blessed Reginald and gave him the habit of the Order, which she is said to have taken from the hands of the Virgin Martyr of Alexandria. The same two Martyr Spouses of Christ were again in attendance on the Mother of God when she showed herself to our Holy Father in the dormitory at Santa Sabina, sprinkling the Brethren with holy water as they slept. Finally, it was Saint Catharine who, in company with the other holy Protectress of the Order, Saint Mary Magdalen, came with the Queen of Heaven to bring the miraculous picture of Saint Dominic to Soriano. 


O God, you gave the law to Moses on the summit of Mount Sinai, and through your holy angels, wonderfully put in that same place the body of the blessed Catherine, your virgin and martyr; grant, we beseech you, that by her merits and intercession, we may reach that mountain which is Christ.  Who lives and reigns with you...