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Catherine

Catherine female forename.
St Catherine of Alexandria (d. c.307), early and probably legendary Christian martyr. According to tradition she opposed the persecution of Christians under the emperor Maxentius and refused to recant or to marry the emperor; when pagan philosophers were sent to dispute with her she converted them. She is traditionally regarded as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

She is said to have been tortured on a spiked wheel (destroyed by her angelic protectors) and finally beheaded. Her emblems are a wheel (see Catherine wheel below) and a sword, and a palm-branch as a symbol of her virginity. Her feast day is 25 November.
St Catherine of Siena (1333?–80), Sienese virgin and member of the Dominican Third Order, who was a noted spiritual leader of the 14th century, and who was popularly believed to have contributed significantly to the ending of the Great Schism and the return of the papacy to Rome from Avignon. She is the patron saint of Italy, and was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970. Her usual emblem is a lily, and her feast day was 30 April; from 1969 it has been 29 April.
Catherine the Great (1729–96), empress of Russia. Born a princess of Anhalt-Zerbst, she became empress (as Catherine II) after her husband, Peter III, was deposed. She is taken as the type of a powerful female ruler.
Catherine wheel a firework in the form of a flat coil which spins when fixed to something solid, and lit; it is named for the spiked wheel which was one of the instruments of martyrdom of St Catherine of Alexandria.

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Catherine

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