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without good authority. The Apostolical Constitutions and Canons also have been supposed to be his work; but they are now generally believed to have been compiled in a later age, before the council of Nicæa. The Liturgy which goes under the name of S. Clement is also very ancient, and as Bona remarks, if not drawn up by the Apostles and enlarged by their successors, which is very probable, was at least used by the fathers of the second and third centuries 1.
As heavenly blue breaks on a troubled deep,
From the calm grave where Paul and Peter sleep,
Unto their children came,
From Rome to Corinth. O'er the rising din
It swelled, as from their purer seats above,
Paul's moving tone. It was thy watchful love,
Glorious within, and wrought of purest gold,
Began, 'mid hanging mists, her greatness to unfold.
Cathedral, p. 274.
S. Katharine, Virgin and Martyr.
S. KATHARINE, or Ekatharina, as the Greeks call her, was honoured to witness a noble confession for Christ, at Alexandria, during the reign of the em
1 Rer. Liturg. lib. i. c. 8.
peror Maximin II. Many shared in her suffering, and in its eternal reward. Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical History, has drawn a picture of the conflict which the holy confessors had to endure in the early part of the fourth century. "The Christians," he says, "trampled under foot the fear of death, and despised the violent tyranny of man. The men endured the fire and the sword, the piercing of nails, wild beasts, drowning in deep gulfs of the sea, the cutting off and burning of limbs, and the tearing out of their eyes; in a word, the mutilation of their whole bodies; and, in addition to these, famine, fetters, and chains; yet in all they would rather give a proof of their endurance for true piety, than reject God, and worship idols. Even women, no less strengthened than men by the doctrine of the true faith, endured, some of them, the same trials as the men, and attained equal rewards of their virtue. Others, when they were hurried away to be violated, suffered the loss of their lives rather than of their modesty." Among this glorious company the historian has described one in particular, who is supposed by many to have been S. Katharine, though some are inclined to think that he commemorates S. Dorothy. These are his words :-" There was one Christian woman, the noblest and the wealthiest of all the ladies of Alexandria. When others had been violated by the tyrant, she overcame the boundless and unbridled licentiousness of Maximin, by a certain manly loftiness of soul. She was a lady most renowned for the splendour of her birth, and for her riches, as well as for her remarkable learning; but she set modesty and purity before all these:
and when the tyrant had been often foiled in his assaults, he did not condemn her to be beheaded, for he perceived that she was so prepared for death, that her desire for it was greater than his cruelty; but he stripped her of all her goods, and sent her into exile. A multitude of other women, who would not bear even to hear of the violence which the governors of the provinces attempted, suffered every kind of excruciating torture and capital punishment'."
The emperor Basil, in his Greek Menology, relates that the saint was of royal descent, and famed for her learning. She silenced a company of heathen philosophers, whom Maximin had commanded to reason with her; and some of them, convinced by her arguments, confessed Christ, and suffered death. The same authority further assures us that she was condemned to be tortured by an engine made of several wheels joined together, and armed with sharp-pointed spikes, which, when the wheels went round, would have torn her body in pieces; but the engine was destroyed by an unseen power, and the saint finished her confession by the sword. Hence a wheel is her usual emblem.
Her name is highly venerated by the Eastern Church, as well as in the West. Her body was discovered by the Christians in Egypt, in the eighth century, while they were suffering under the yoke of the Saracens. It was soon after translated to the great monastery on the top of Mount Sinai, in Arabia, which had been richly endowed by the emperor Justinian. When it is mentioned in ancient chro
1 Eusebius Eccl. Hist. b. viii. 14.
nicles that her body was transported thither by angels, nothing more is meant than that the monks themselves conveyed it with reverent hands to their house in the desert. From that time we hear more of S. Katharine and her relics. The devotion to her memory probably passed into the west in the age of the Crusades. Paul, the holy hermit of Latra, in the tenth century, celebrated her festival with great solemnity. Simeon, a monk of Mount Sinai, coming to Rouen to receive an annual alms from Richard, duke of Normandy, in the eleventh century, brought with him relics of the saint, which he deposited in a monastery near the city. Her name then began to be venerated in France.
A holy well near Edinburgh still bears the name of the virgin martyr. Hector Boethius, in his History of Scotland, says of it:-"About two miles distant from the town, more or less, a fountain flows, on which drops of oil float in such abundance, that however much you take away, not the less remains. They say that it arose from a drop of the oil1 of S. Katharine, which was brought to S. Margaret2 from Mount Sinai. And the truth of this is attested by the name of the blessed Katharine, which is given to the fountain, and by the chapel which was built in her honour near the place, by command of S. Margaret. This oil has great virtue in healing diseases of the skin."
1 "Whether this oil flowed from the bodies of the saints," says Mabillon, De Cult. Sanct. Incognit. xix., "or whether it was taken from the lamps which burned before their relics, is not clear. The latter seems to me much more probable."
2 Queen of Scotland in the eleventh century.
K. James VI. of Scotland had so high an esteem for this well, that when he returned from England in 1617, to visit his ancient kingdom, he went to see it, and ordered that it should be carefully built over and repaired, and that steps should be made, to afford more easy access to the oil. It continued to be held in great veneration till 1650, when the soldiers of Cromwell invaded Scotland, and defaced all such memorials of pious devotion as had escaped the fury of the Presbyterians. Chalmers says, "it was completely demolished early in the last century, by some sacrilegious person, who was remarked by the neighbouring people not to have afterwards prospered." It is still used by the poor for the sake of the healing virtues of its oil, and is visited by the curious, who smile at the credulity of S. Margaret, as they are pleased to call it.
The hospital of S. Katharine in London, near the Tower, was founded by queen Matilda, the wife of Stephen, in 1149, for a master, three brothers, who were chaplains, and three sisters; also for ten poor bedeswomen, and six poor clerks. It was enriched by the gifts of queen Eleanor, the wife of K. Edward I., and of Philippa, the queen of Edward III. Katharine of Aragon also was a benefactor to it, for the honour of the saint whose name she bore. It received privileges from pope Honorius.
Ye Virgin company
Who tune your golden harps on high,