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Catherine of Alexandria

Exploring Israel

Catherine of Alexandria is according to tradition, a Christian saint and virgin, who was martyred in the early 4th century at the hands of the emperor Maxentius. According to her hagiography, she was both a princess and a noted scholar who became a Christian around the age of 14, converted hundreds of people to Christianity and was martyred around the age of 18.  Some modern scholars consider that the legend of Catherine was probably based on the life and murder of the Greek philosopher Hypatia, with reversed roles of Christians and pagans. 

In This Photo: Saint Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai


According to the traditional narrative, Catherine of Alexandria was the daughter of Constus, the governor of Alexandria during the reign of the emperor Maximian (286–305). From a young age she devoted herself to study. A vision of the Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus persuaded her to become a Christian. When the persecutions began under Maxentius, she went to the emperor and rebuked him for his cruelty. The emperor summoned 50 of the best pagan philosophers and orators to dispute with her; hoping that they would refute her pro-Christian arguments, but Catherine of Alexandria won the debate. Several of her adversaries; conquered by her eloquence, declared themselves Christians and were at once put to death.

Catherine of Alexandria: Torture and martyrdom

Catherine of Alexandria was then scourged and imprisoned. She was scourged so cruelly and for so long that her whole body was covered with wounds, from which the blood flowed in streams. The spectators wept with pity, but Catherine stood with her eyes raised to heaven; without giving a sign of suffering or fear. Maxentius ordered her to be imprisoned without food; so she would starve to death. During the confinement, angels tended her wounds with salve. Catherine of Alexandria was fed daily by a dove from Heaven and Christ also visited her; encouraging her to fight bravely and promising her the crown of everlasting glory.

During her imprisonment more than 200 people came to see her, including Maxentius’ wife, Valeria Maximilla; all converted to Christianity and were subsequently martyred. Twelve days later, when the dungeon was opened, a bright light and fragrant perfume filled it and Catherine of Alexandria came forth even more radiant and beautiful.

Upon the failure of Maxentius to make Catherine of Alexandria yield by way of torture, he tried to win the beautiful and wise princess over by proposing marriage. Catherine of Alexandria refused, declaring that her spouse was Jesus Christ, to whom she had consecrated her virginity.

The furious emperor condemned Catherine of Alexandria to death on a spiked breaking wheel, but, at her touch, it shattered. Maxentius ordered her to be beheaded. Catherine herself ordered the execution to commence. A milk-like substance rather than blood flowed from her neck.

The Church of St. Catherine at Bethlehem

On my guided tours of Bethlehem, you can visit the famous Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria. It is just next to the Church of Nativity. A stairway on the right side of the nave goes down into the complex caves and chambers cut-out from the rock. These include the Cave of St. Jerome and the Chapel of Holy Innocents. So If you feel like you want to know more; so get in touch and let’s go touring! My tours are 9 hours long and are custom-made exactly how my guests want them. Usually, I pick my clients when convenient for them and the tour ends when it gets dark. I recommend you to get in touch as soon as possible that you could get an early bird quote!

Lastly, I also have free itineraries that you could look at and lots of more information on the site. So, happy exploring my website and I hope to see you soon on one of my private tours of Israel. So Bye for now and don’t hesitate to get in touch!


Hi! My name is Arik, an Israeli native who dedicated his life to sharing my passion for the Holy Land with those interested in knowing more about this incredible piece of land. I’m the Chief Guide at ‘APT Private Tours in Israel’.

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