Icon of Catherine the Great Martyr: photo, what helps
Despite the fact that the icon of St. Catherine the Great Martyr can be seen in almost every Orthodox church, there is very little information about her earthly life. Their most complete and reliable source are the memories of the servant and personal transcriber - Athanasius. In addition, the servant of God is mentioned in the work of a Byzantine religious leader and writer Simeon Metaffraste, as well as in the writings of several medieval authors, whose names have not been established. Nevertheless, in view of the significance and pedagogical edification of her example, she is among the most revered Christian saints.
Young Egyptian Dorothea
Nowadays, when we offer prayers in front of the icon of Catherine the Great Martyr and perceive it as an integral part of Russian Orthodoxy, we sometimes forget that the holy one depicted on it is a legacy of ancient Christian Egypt, or rather, of the period in the history of this state, when everyone practicing the Savior’s teachings subjected to brutal persecution. However, this is exactly the case.
The city of Alexandria became the birthplace of the future saint, and its birth coincided with the reign of the Roman emperor Maximin, who ruled from 235 to 238. A more accurate date could not be established. It is known that at birth she was named Dorothea, but the name indicated on the icon of the Great Martyr, Catherine, was given to her only after receiving holy baptism.
It is known that the childhood of young Dorothea, who grew up in a family of rich and respected pagans, was happy and truly cloudless. Parents tried not to deny her anything and indulge the slightest whims. When the girl grew up, and it was time to study, the best teachers were invited to her, who later noted her extraordinary intelligence and ability to assimilate the material studied.
A sharp mind and a wonderful memory combined in a girl with an extraordinary beauty, which can sometimes be seen on the icons of the Great Martyr Catherine, so familiar to most believers. Her peculiarity, which was very advantageously combined with the wealth of her parents and, consequently, the future dowry, attracted the most enviable suitors to Dorothy.The bride, who knew her worth, refused to everyone under the simple pretext that she did not see among them a worthy chosen one.
Comprehension of the basics of Christianity
The icons of St. Catherine the Great Martyr, photos of which are presented in the article, show us the image of an adamant follower of Christ's teaching, but a certain period preceded such a high spiritual growth of the young virgin. His start was the visit of Dorothea to a Syrian monk-deserter who was hiding from his pagan persecutors in one of the remote caves.
Dorothea was brought to him by her mother, who secretly confessed Christ's teaching. Since the icons of St. Catherine the Great Martyr is usually depicted against the background of a hilly and lifeless desert landscape, it can be assumed that this is exactly what the area, in the midst of which its spiritual growth took place, looked like. A similar example is given above.
The hermit taught the young girl the basics of the true teaching and told that there is only one bridegroom in the world - Jesus Christ, who has to open his heart. Saying goodbye, he gave his pupil an icon depicting the Queen of Heaven and taught to prayerfully ask for intercession from Her Eternal Son.
On one of the next nights, Dorothea was able to see a wondrous vision: barely a subtle dream clouded the eyes of the young maiden, as the gentle gaze of the Queen of Heaven warmed her, but the Infant Jesus, who was in the hands of the Mother, turned away from her and refused to show her His Most Pure Face until her until she washes her sins in the baptismal font.
The next morning, the maiden hurried to see her teacher again, and after telling him about the night vision, she asked me to immediately perform a baptismal ceremony over her. He eagerly agreed, and in the holy sacrament he gave her the name Catherine. The icon of the Holy Great Martyr shows us already washed in the font and entered into the bosom of the Church of Christ.
Heavenly Groom's Gift
Returning home and feeling tired from a long journey, Catherine sat down on the bed and barely closed her eyes, as the Heavenly Queen appeared to her again with Her Eternal Son. But this time, turning His face to her, Jesus, with a tender smile, extended a ring to the maiden, or rather, an engagement ring, symbolizing that from now on she was his bride. What were her amazement and joy, when, waking from her sleep, Catherine saw on her hand the tangible gift of the Heavenly Groom.
In those ancient pagan times, which preceded the establishment of Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire, Egypt was part of it as one of the many provinces. According to the existing tradition, annually in its largest cities, among which was Alexandria, were held religious festivals with the participation of the emperor himself.
Waiting for one of them, the newly converted Christian woman was filled with a desire to speak with the captain and, revealing to him the true Christ's teaching, to convince the pagan delusions in perniciousness. On most icons, the Great Martyr Catherine is depicted holding a palm branch or flowers in her hands, and this is not by accident - both of them represent the symbol of love and peace on which the Savior’s teaching is based. It was their intention to present a young Christian to the pagan emperor as a gift.
When Catherine attempted to carry out her plans and turned to the emperor, he was somewhat puzzled by the high philosophical meaning of her words and, having no habit of discussing such topics, resorted to the help of the priests accompanying him.However, no matter how they tried to refute the statements of their opponent, they were defeated by the weight of her arguments. It is characteristic that on some icons the Great Martyr Catherine (the photo is presented in the article) is depicted holding an unfolded scroll in her hands, traditionally a symbol of wisdom.
Converted Christian Martyrs
Having become a witness to the fiasco suffered by his sages, the emperor became very angry and immediately ordered them to be sent to the fire (at that time, although they did not dismiss under the article “about incomplete official conformity”, they did very serious work among the “staff”). By the way, from the records of Catherine’s servant Athanasius, mentioned at the beginning of the article, it is known that, standing on the verge of death, the disgraced priests received their spiritual eyes, and declared publicly that they were convinced of the truth of Christ’s teachings and expressed a desire to die for him. Of course, the executioners did not have long to persuade.
It is noted, in particular, that such detail: when the fires were extinguished, all those present were amazed that the dead bodies of the newly converted Christians were not touched by fire, and their faces expressed unearthly bliss.Subsequently, their burial sites became centers of universal pilgrimage, at which many miracles took place.
Dungeon as the last argument in the dispute
As you know, at all times the rulers, not finding any verbal arguments, resorted to the help of brute force. It happened this time. The emperor ordered the fearless maiden to be sent to prison and, with the help of an experienced executioner, to force him to renounce his convictions. The value of the icon of Catherine the Great Martyr, on which she is represented next to the cogwheel, which became one of the tools of her torment, lies precisely in chanting her spiritual hardness and readiness for suffering for the Heavenly Groom, who relentlessly supported her in those tragic days.
Under the cover of Heavenly Groom
Literary monuments and first of all the life, compiled after the canonization of the saint, narrate that, wanting to break Catherine's forces with hunger, the jailers did not give her food for 25 days, but every night the dove was the messenger of the Lord, brought food to the prisoner. Heavenly Bridegroom did not leave her even in the days when the executioners tried to resort to other methods of their gloomy “art”.Falling from fatigue and replacing each other, they were unable to shake the will of a fragile girl, kept from agony by divine grace. Even when she was taken to the same wheel, which is depicted on the icon, it suddenly overturned and crumbled into dust, defeated by an unknown force.
Having lost hope of forcing Catherine to renounce Christianity, the emperor ordered her head cut off, but also bending over the scaffold, the great ascetic remained firm. When the executioner executed the order, then, to everyone’s amazement and fear, it was not blood, but milk that had flowed from the opening wound. And at that moment, two angels descended from heaven and lifted their lifeless bodies to the summit of Mount Sinai in front of everyone.
Miracle at the top of Sinai
The acquisition of the imperishable relics of Catherine the Great Martyr was accomplished after 300 years. The abbot of the monastery, located at the foot of the mountain, to which the angels once raised up the body of God's servant, an unknown voice commanded, together with the brethren, to climb to the top, where the shrine rests. Without delay, the monks set off and, rising up among the clouds, found the body of the great martyr, untouched by corruption, for the entire period that had passed from the day of execution. Identify it was not difficult for the ring, preserved on the hand.
Having gone down, the monks transferred the relics they had gained to their abode. Today they rest in the marble shrine of the Sinai Monastery, founded and named in her honor (photo above). In the same place, pilgrims can also bow to the main icon of the Great Martyr Catherine of Alexandria, in which a reliquary (a special capsule for storing the relics of the saints) is embedded with her finger.
The miraculous icon from the Moscow temple
When the light of Christianity shone in Russia, the custom of worship to all saints inherited from the Byzantine church was established. Among them was the great martyr Catherine. In Moscow, the icon of this saint of God, revered by the miraculous, was traditionally kept in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, although its torture - other samples, made in accordance with the established canon, could be found quite often. And nowadays they can be seen not only in churches, but also in home iconostasis of most believers.
Holy intercessors before God
In 2009, the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, once destroyed and restored in the 90s of the last century, was brought from the Sinai monastery to the universal worship of the power of the saint.This undoubtedly served to further popularize it among the people who barely overcame the strip of godlessness imposed during the years of communist rule. And today, millions of believers offer prayers in front of the icon of the Great Martyr Catherine. What to ask this saint, and in what cases can her help be most effective?
It is known that the saints themselves cannot influence the life of the people, but the Lord granted them the right to intercede with Him for those who still make their earthly journey. Particularly sensitively, he inclines hearing to requests concerning those areas of life in which this or that saint himself once did well. Thus, in the life of any saint, you can get an answer to the question of what kind of our petitions through prayers to him are most likely.
What does the icon of Catherine the Great Martyr help?
So, given the extraordinary ability of Catherine the Great Martyr to learn, the believers have the right to expect from her a successful intercession before God for help in her studies. In addition, the wisdom inherent in her days of life on earth provides a convincing reason for prayers in cases where an important decision is required.
Further, it should be noted that St. Catherine is considered one of the patrons of marriage, because her bridegroom, who was chosen by her best bride in the world, is our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, in front of her image, it is customary to offer prayers for the upcoming marriage, and those who have already found this happiness ask for its preservation for many years. And, finally, it is precisely to the mediation of this great martyr Catherine who resorts, asking the Lord for strength and courage to overcome everyday life and adversity, since she herself was abundantly filled with these virtues.