Monday, May 26

Katerina, the wheel and the book.

was a princess who lived in a large city a very long time ago. Katerina was taught to read when she was young, and she read voraciously for the rest of her life--her favourite books were on philosophy, and her favourite question was “Why?”.

She was curious about the nature of the world and its people, and this got her into a lot of trouble. She soon came to the conclusion that there was a God, and that he loved her very much and had sacrificed much to tell her so and bring her home. Katerina became a Christian. This, too, created a lot of problems for Katerina since Christianity was not popular at the time, and neither were intelligent princesses.

Like most princesses you hear about in stories, she was eventually supposed to get married off to a prince of another country that she didn’t know. In some stories, they say Katerina was very upset because she did not want to get married at all, and some of them say she was willing to be a dutiful princess (it was not her fault she was born that way) and marry the prince with the stipulation that he should be a Christian.

In any case, she did not want to marry the prince they picked out for her: he did not accept her for who she was and went so far as to try and make her promise she would give up the God who loved her. She refused. He brought fifty pagan philosophers to convince her otherwise, but she was able to defeat all their arguments even using their own logic against them. The prince grew very angry, and in his anger he ordered the death of the fifty philosophers. Katerina did her best to stop this, and pleaded with the general in charge of the execution, but to no avail.

The prince asked her again whether she would marry him, and again she said no, although she was very sad and did not want anyone else to die for her sake. The evil prince condemned her to be tortured to death on a spiked wheel, but when they tied her up and brought her to it, the moment she brushed against it the whole thing burst to splinters. The executioner and his henchmen were stuck like pincushions! But the prince would not let Katerina escape, and came after her with a sword and cut off her head. To everyone’s surprise, her body disappeared, and was found at the foot of a mountain thousands of miles away in a tomb already built, with her name upon it.

Because Katerina loved her God so much and wanted the best for her people, she was taken up to heaven as a hero and remained a princess. Some people believe that Katerina looks down from heaven and tries to help other struggling Christians, especially studious women that they might learn the truth, and soldiers that they might have good masters, and people who make wheels that nobody else will ever suffer because of a broken one.
[The images used in this post are courtesy of the British Library, Egerton MS 2781 f. 78v]

No comments: