Thursday, August 22, 2019

01 Ivory Carvings, from Bible stories! 17th Century. With Footnote, # 16

Unknown, French 
St. Catherine, c. 1600
Ivory Relief Plaque
4-1/4" x 3-1/8"
Private collection

Circa 1600s ivory relief carving depicting the beheading of St. Catherine. Broken wheel in the background. Atypical depiction shows a small boy holding the ropes that bind Catherine's wrists. More on this relief

Saint 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 pagan emperor Maxentius. According to her hagiography, she was both a princess and a noted scholar, who became a Christian around the age of fourteen, and converted hundreds of people to Christianity. She was martyred around the age of 18. Over 1,100 years following her martyrdom, St. Joan of Arc identified Catherine as one of the Saints who appeared to her and counselled her.

The femperor condemned Catherine 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 Eastern Orthodox Church venerates her as a Great Martyr, and celebrates her feast day on 24 or 25 November (depending on the local tradition). In the Catholic Church she is traditionally revered as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. In 1969 the Catholic Church removed her feast day from the General Roman Calendar; however, she continued to be commemorated in the Roman Martyrology on 25 November. More on Saint Catherine of Alexandria




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