Feast of the Holy Great Marytr and Most Wise Katherine of Alexandria

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,



+In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Grant to us, O Master, as we prepare for sleep, rest of body and soul; protect us from the dark sleep of sin and from every sinful and nocturnal pleasure, Calm the impulses of the passions, quench the fiery darts of the evil one hurled treacherously against us. Subdue the rebellion of our flesh and suppress every earthly and material sentiment. Grant to us, O God, a vigilant mind, a sober heart, prudent reasoning, and a sleep that is free from every satanic fantasy. And at the time of prayer, raise us up again, strengthened in the observance of Your Commandments and ever mindful of Your judgments. Grant that we may glorify You throughout the night, praising, blessing and glorifying Your Most-Honored and Majestic Name, the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.


On November 25th (Apodosis of the Feast of the Entry of the Theotokos into the temple) Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors, and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Preachers, Apostles, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and every righteous spirit made perfect in our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy and Great Martyr and Most Wise Katherine of Alexandria and 150 rhetoricians with her; St. Marcurius of Caesarea in Cappadocia; St. Peter the Hesychast; New Holy Martyrs Seraphim, Archbishop of Smolensk, and Gregory, John, Basil, Cosmas, John, Simeon, Hilarion, Iaroslav, Alexander, John, Victor, Andrew, and Paul; St. Clement, Bishop of Ochrid; Saint Porphyrius the Commander, and 200 soldiers at Alexandria; 670 holy Martyrs beheaded.

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Hesychasts, Holy Soldiers, Holy Archbishops, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.


Holy and Great Martyr Katherine was the daughter of Cestus, a wealthy patrician of Alexandria, the capital of Egypt and metropolis of the arts and sciences. She was widely admired not only for her noble birth but also for the exceeding beauty and intelligence that God had given her. Taught by the best masters and most illustrious philosophers, she learnt while still a girl to follow complex lines of argument and obtained a perfect understanding of the Aristotle and their followers. She also excelled in the literary sphere, and familiar with the works of all the great poets from Homer to Virgil and was capable of discussing every subject, in a variety of languages learned from scholars and foreign visitors to the great city.

In her quest for knowledge, she had made herself acquainted with all the physical sciences, especially medicine, and there was no area of human wisdom beyond the range of her penetrating intellect. By the time she was eighteen, even the most learned scholars were in awe of her intellectual accomplishments. All this, combined with noble birth, beauty and wealth, made her an enviable match and there were suitors in plenty for her hand. But having a presentiment of the excellence of virginity, Katherine refused them all and made it a condition with her parents that she would accept none but a youth who equaled her in nobility, riches, beauty and wisdom.

Her mother, in despair of finding such a one, sent her to seek the advice of a Holy Christian ascetic who lived not far from the city. He told Katherine that he did indeed know a man such as she was looking for, and possessed of that surpassing wisdom which is the very source and spring of all things visible and invisible--wisdom neither gained nor appropriated, but His Eternal possession. He is noble also above all that we can think of, for He has authority over the whole universe and has made the world by His own power. Master of the worlds, principle of all wisdom and of all knowledge, He is also, the Elder told her, the most beautiful of the children of the Father, Who became man for our salvation and Who desires to espouse every virginal soul.

As he bade her farewell, the ascetic gave her an icon of the Mother of God carrying the Divine Child in her arms. That night the Mother of God appeared to Katherine, but Christ turned away and would not look at her, saying that she was ugly and unclean because she was still subject to sin and death. Grief-stricken, she went back to the ascetic who instructed her in the mysteries of the faith and gave her new birth unto eternal life in the waters of Baptism. Then the Holy Virgin appeared to Katherine again with Christ in her arms, Who said to His Mother with joy, "Now I will accept her as my most pure bride for she was become radiant and fair, rich and truly wise!" In token and pledge of this heavenly betrothal, the Mother of God put a ring upon the finger of the maiden and caused her to promise to take no other spouse upon the earth.

Now in those days the Emperor Maximin (305-311 A.D.), like the pagan Roman emperor Diocletian before him, tried to make all his subjects show their submission to his power by offering idolatrous sacrifices under pain of torture and death. When these impious rites were taking place in Alexandria, Katherine appeared before him in the temple and declared her allegiance, but severely reproved the idolatrous ceremonies. Struck by her beauty as much as by her boldness, the emperor listened as she developed her argument, and he was overcome by her wisdom. Accepting her offer to engage the foremost scholars and orators of the empire in public disputation, Maximin sent heralds all over the Roman world to bring together scholars, philosophers, orators and logicians. There arrived at Alexandria fifty in all, who presented themselves before the emperor and the crowd that gathered in the amphitheater, to confront the slender young girl. Alone, but radiant with the grace of the Holy Spirit, she was in no fear of them, having been assured by the Archangel Michael in a vision that the Lord would speak through her mouth and cause her to overcome the wisdom of the world by the Wisdom that comes from on High. In that strength, Katherine showed up the errors and contradictions of oracles, poets, and philosophers. She showed how they had recognized for themselves that the so-called gods of the pagans are demons and the expression of human passions. She even referred in support of her arguments to certain oracles of Sibyl and Apollo, which dimly tell of the divine incarnation and Life-Giving Passion of the Son of God. Overthrowing their myths and fables, she proclaimed the creation of the world out of nothing by the one, true, eternal God, and the deliverance of man from death by the Incarnation of the Only Son of the Father.

Having run out of arguments, the fifty orators were reduced to silence. Recognizing their error, they asked the Saint for Baptism, to the fury of the emperor, who condemned them to be burnt alive on November 17th. Finding Katherine immune to flattery, Maximin had her tortured and thrown into prison, while a dreadful instrument of torture was constructed of four spiked wheels connected by an axle. Saint Katherine was attached to this machine as soon as it was ready, but an Angel came to free her and the death-dealing chariot hurtled down the slope killing many pagans on its way.

Seeing the feats of the Holy Martyr, Maximin's own wife was converted and visited Saint Katherine in prison, escorted by the Commander Porphyrius, a close friend of the emperor, and by 200 soldiers, all of whom became disciples of Christ. Saint Katherine received them with joy and foretold that they would soon bear away the crown of valiant athletes of the faith. The emperor was enraged at such defiance within his household. Forgetful of all human feeling, he had his own wife cruelly tortured and beheaded on November 23rd. On the following day Porphyrius and his company were put to death. On November 25th, Saint Katherine was brought forth from her dungeon to appear at the tribunal, fairer and more radiant with heavenly joy than when she had entered it, for she saw that the day of her union with Christ had come at last. She was taken outside the city and, after a last prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord Who had revealed to her the inexhaustible treasures of true wisdom, she was beheaded in her turn.

Her holy body was then conveyed by two Angels from Alexandria to Mount Sinai. There, it was discovered in the 8th century by an ascetic who lived in the vicinity. The precious holy relic was later transferred to the Monastery that the Emperor Justinian had founded in the late 6th century. It is there to this day, giving both a heavenly scent and working countless miracles.


Adopted from the Synaxarion: The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church, Vol. 2. Compiled by Hieromonk Makarios of Simonos Petra and translated from the French by Christopher Hookway (Chalkidike, Greece.

______________________________________________________________________________HYMNS OF THE HOLY AND GREAT MARTYR
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn (Plagal Of The First Tone)

Let us praise the most auspicious bride of Christ, the divine Katherine, protectress of Sinai, our aid and our help. For, she brilliantly silenced the eloquence of the impious by the sword of the spirit, and now, crowned as a martyr, she asks great mercy for all.

Kontakion (Second Tone)

O friends of martyrs, now divinely raise up a renewed chorus, praising the all-wise Katherine. For, she proclaimed Christ in the arena, trampled on the serpent, and spat upon the knowledge of the orators.



With these words of Saint Justin before us, we might well ask ourselves if Orthodox spiritual life is even possible without the testimony of the Lives of the Saints. The answer to this, I believe, must be "no". True spiritual life begins when we live in Christ and Christ lives in us, right here on this earth. And the Lives of the Saints bear witness to us that the Life of Christ on earth did not end with His Ascension into Heaven, nor with the martyrdom of His Apostles. His Life continues to this day in His Church, and is seen most brilliantly in His Saints. And we, too, in our own spiritual lives, are to enter into that continuing, never-ending Life.-The Place of Lives of Saints in the Spiritual Life, by Hieromonk Damascene.


"All the Saints," wrote Saint John of Kronstadt, "are our older brothers in the one House of the Heavenly Father. Having departed from earth to heaven, they are always with us in God...They serve together with us, they sing, they speak, they instruct, they help us in various temptations and sorrows. Call upon them as living with you under a single roof; glorify them, thank them, converse with them as with living people; and you will believe in the Church".-Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works


If we live with all the saints (Ephesians 3:18) by attentively reading their lives each day as we walk in the spiritual garden of the Synaxarion, we discover little by little those whom our heart especially goes out to. They will become our close friends in whom we love to confide our joys and sorrows; whose lives we love to read time and again, as well as to chant their troparia and to venerate their icons. These close friends will be the guides of our choice and a great comfort to us along the strait and narrow way that leads to Christ (St. Matthew 7:14). -Introduction to The Synaxarion: The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church by Hieromonk Makarios of Simonos Petra, Mount Athos



Holy Epistle Lesson: Galatians 3:23-29, 4:1-5
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 5:24-34


"Nor will one escape pride, the first offspring of the devil, unless one has banished avarice, the root of all evil, since poverty make a man humble, according to Solomon". (St. Evagrios the Solitary)

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George