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The Saints In Art - C

( Originally Published 1908 )

CATHERINE, ST. (Patroness of Philosophy, Learning, Schools, and Colleges).(25th November)

Called St. Catherine of Alexandria, or in Italian "delle Ruote," to distinguish her from others of the name. According to legend, St. Catherine was the daughter of Costis, a brother of Constantine the Great, and of Sabinella, daughter of the King of Egypt. Very early she showed signs of extraordinary ability and virtue. At the age of fifteen she was learned in the works of Plato, and surpassed her masters, who were the seven wisest men of the day. Her father died at this time, and she became queen, but she continued her life of study, and, very much against the wishes of her people, she refused to marry, till, she said, a prince with all the virtues should come to woo her. A vision appeared to an old hermit in the desert near Alexandria, in which the Virgin told him to go to Catherine and comfort her, telling her that the Saviour of the world would be her bridegroom. She asked what she should do to become worthy of Him, and learnt the Christian faith from the hermit, and was baptised, together with her mother. The same night the SON OF GOD appeared to her, in a vision, and put a ring on her finger. When she saw it she determined to give up the world, and live entirely for the service of the Church. Maximin the tyrant now began his persecutions of the Christians at Alexandria, and Catherine's opportunity came. She argued so forcibly with Maximin that he called together fifty of the most learned philosophers of the empire, promising them great rewards if they could refute her. But she disputed so wisely that, one after another, they acknowledged themselves vanquished and accepted Christianity. Maximin consigned them all to the flames, and, struck by her beauty, had Catherine brought to his palace. Failing utterly in all his attempts against Catherine, he ordered her to be scourged and thrown into a dungeon ; but her virtue and her miraculous preservation in prison had such influence that the Em-press and Porphyry, a minion of Maximin, and their attendants, were, during his absence from home, converted. At this Maximin waxed more furious than ever ; he had his wife, Porphyry, and the other converts put to death, and on Catherine refusing with scorn to become his Empress he ordered her to be bound on the sharp points of four revolving wheels, and torn to death. Catherine went out gladly to die, but an angel came and broke the wheels, the fragments of which killed thousands of the onlookers. She was then carried outside the city, tortured, and finally beheaded ; and the angels came and carried her body away to the top of Mount Sinai. These legends were most popular in Europe in the Middle Ages, and St. Catherine is a universal favourite in the world of art.

She is represented as young, beautiful, and crowned, with a palm, book, or sword in her hand ; but her distinguishing attribute is a spiked wheel, often broken. In pictures of the marriage of St. Catherine the wheel is often omitted ; a ring is being placed on her finger by CHRIST. Her burial by angels is a favourite subject.

Her life is illustrated in frescoes by Maso-lino in S. Clemente, Rome ; pictures of her mystical marriage by Borgognoni, in the National Gallery, and her martyrdom and burial, by Luini, in S. Maurizio and in the Brera, Milan.

CATHERINE, ST. (of Siena). (30th April)

Born in 1347, the youngest child of a rich dyer of Siena. She was a visionary from early youth, and prayed that, like her name-sake of Alexandria, she might be the Bride of CHRIST. After years of ill treatment by her family, because of her extreme piety and her refusal to marry, she sought admission to the Third Order of St. Dominic, but still lived in her father's house. According to legend she endured severe temptations, but overcame them by prayer and fasting, and went about nursing the sick. She had a vision of CHRIST bringing in his hands a crown of gold and a crown of thorns. She chose the latter, and put it on her head. It is also related that one morning, when praying before the crucifix in the Chapel of St. Christina at Pisa, she, like St. Francis, received the " Stigmata." Her fame spread, and she was chosen by the Florentines, who had been excommunicated in 1376, as their mediator with the Pope, then at Avignon. It is said that she helped to persuade him to return to Rome, which he did the same year. She died at the age of thirty-three. Her actions had great influence on the political history of her time, and she wrote books which are among the Italian classics. Her last years were spent at Rome, working for the unity and reformation of the Church.

She is represented in the habit of her Order, and is at once identified by the Stigmata. She generally has a lily, but often a crown of thorns. She is also sometimes painted, like her famous patroness and namesake, St. Catherine of Alexandria, receiving the marriage ring from the Infant CHRIST.

Her portrait, by Andrea di Vanni, is in San Domenico, Siena, and frescoes and pictures in her house and in the Accademia there.

CECILIA, ST. (Patroness of Music). (22nd November)

Was, according to legend, the daughter of noble Roman parents, in the reign of the Emperor Severus. They secretly professed Christianity, and, from her childhood, Cecilia was remarkable for her piety. She always carried a copy of the Gospels concealed in her robe, and vowed herself to CHRIST and chastity. She used her great gift for music to the glory of God, and invented the organ for His service. When she was about sixteen her parents married her to a young Roman noble, Valerian, whom she persuaded to respect her vows of chastity, and he was converted to the Faith. He sought St. Urban in the Catacombs, and was baptised by him.

When he returned, he found, with his wife, an angel, who crowned them both with roses gathered in Paradise. Valerian, in response to the angel's offer to grant any request of his, asked that his brother, Tiburtius, might also be converted. Soon after Tiburtius came in, and noticed the scent of roses, but, being still unconverted, could not see them. Cecilia then reasoned with him so convincingly concerning the Faith that he also went to St. Urban and was baptised. All three went about doing good, till the Prefect of Rome ordered the two brothers to be thrown into a dungeon. They were in charge of a centurion, Maximus, who was converted, and died with them shortly after. Cecilia buried them, and then became the object of the Prefect's tortures. He had her thrown into a boiling bath, with flames under it, but she was unhurt, so he sent his executioner, who gave her three wounds in the neck and breast, and left her half dead. She bequeathed all her goods to the poor, desired St. Urban to convert her house into a place of worship for the Christians ; then, after three days, still singing praises to God, she died. Her house became a church, which was rebuilt over her remains in the ninth century, when she appeared to Pope Pascal I., and told him where her body was buried. Later she became the Patron Saint of Musicians.

She is represented with a palm, sometimes crowned with roses, and is easily distinguished from other virgin martyrs by her organ or other musical instrument, or roll of music.

Famous picture by Raphael in the Accademia, Bologna, and by the Van Eycks in the Berlin Museum.

CHARLES BORROMEO, ST. (4th November)

Born in 1537,of a noble family in Lombardy, he was dedicated to the Church from infancy, and his uncle, Pope Pius IV., made him a cardinal, and Archbishop of Milan, at the age of twenty-three. On the death of his elder brother he left Rome for Milan to take possession of his estates and his diocese. He lived in the utmost simplicity, giving away all his property, and visited the remote parts of Northern Italy. His moral standard was unyielding, and he was determined to put down all abuses within his jurisdiction. In doing so he made many enemies, and his life was attempted. During the severe out-break of plague at Milan, in 1575, he ministered personally to the sick, walked barefoot through the city with a halter round his neck, and then solemnly knelt before the crucifix in the cathedral, offering himself as a sacrifice for the people. He died in 1584.

He is represented in late Italian pictures as a cardinal, with an archbishop's crozier, generally barefoot, and with a rope round his neck.

CHRISTINA, ST. (Patroness of Bolsena, her traditional birthplace). (24th July)

According to legend, her father was a Roman governor in the third century. She was early converted to Christianity, and distributed his idols of gold and silver to the poor. In a rage he ordered her to be beaten and thrown into a dungeon, but this was without avail : she remained firm in the Faith.

She was then thrown into Lake Bolsena, with a millstone round her neck, but angels watched over her, and brought her safe to land. After various other tortures her father died, and the persecution was continued by his successor, Julian. He had her tongue cut out, and tried vainly, in other ways, to break her spirit ; at last she was tied to a post and shot with arrows. So she died, and was carried to heaven by angels.

She is represented with a palm and crown, and sometimes an arrow : her distinguishing attribute is a millstone.

Picture by Vincenzo Catena in S. Maria, Mater Domini, Venice.

CHRISTOPHER, ST. (25th July)

Legend says that he was a giant, a native of Canaan. He was so proud of his size and strength, that he would take service with no one but the most powerful monarch in the world. So he set out to find him, and came to the Court of King Maximus, renowned for riches and power. He served him till he noticed that even this great king made the sign of the cross at the mention of the devil ; then he left him and sought the service of Satan, as a more powerful ruler. Satan appeared to him, leading his armed hosts, and he followed him, till, coming to a cross by the wayside, Satan trembled. Christopher, astonished, inquired the reason, and finding that CHRIST was more powerful than Satan he sought Him. He found a hermit who instructed him in the Christian faith, but he refused to be bound by prayers and fastings. So the hermit told him that if he could not worship he could serve CHRIST, and sent him to a certain river where there was a ford, and told him to carry over on his shoulders all who wished to cross. Christopher rooted up a palm-tree for a staff, and day and night carried over all who came to the ford. One night a child came, and Christopher lifted him on his shoulders and entered the river. But the waters rose, and the waves and wind roared, and the child grew heavier and heavier, so that he could hardly get across. When at last they reached the bank, the child said he had carried over Him who made the world, and that his service was accepted, and that, as a token, if he planted his staff in the ground, in the morning it would bear leaves and fruit. Then the Christ Child vanished, and it happened as He had said. And he fell down and worshipped, and went forth to encourage the Christians, calling his name Christopher, for he had carried CHRIST. After many sufferings and tortures, he was imprisoned and beheaded.

He is represented as very tall and strong, generally fording a river with a huge staff in his hand, and carrying the Christ Child on his shoulders.

Fresco by Titian in Palazzo Ducale, Venice.

CHRYSOSTOM, ST. JOHN. (27th January)

The most renowned of the Greek Fathers. Born about 350, of noble parents, at Antioch, he began his public life at the bar, but while still young he left his widowed mother, and passed several years in the desert in penance. Returning to Antioch, worn out by his abstinence, he was ordained, and became renowned for his preaching. By the universal wish of the people he was appointed Archbishop of Constantinople, in 398, and performed the duties of his office with the greatest vigour and determination. He denounced the licentiousness of his time, and brought upon him-self the animosity of a large section of the clergy, and of the Empress Eudosia. By her influence he was deposed and ultimately banished. He died in exile. He wrote a very great number of homilies, commentaries, and orations, and was celebrated, as his name (golden mouth) implies, for his eloquence. A story is told that in the desert he went on hands and knees, and without clothes, for many years, in expiation of a sin in the early days of his ministry.

He is generally represented with the other Greek Fathers, distinguished by their names inscribed. Several pictures illustrate the legend of his penance.

CLARA, ST. (Ital. SANTA CHIARA). (12th August)

The eldest daughter of a noble family at Assisi. While very young, she decided to devote herself to a religious life, but her parents objected. However, she was determined to renounce the world, and one Palm Sunday she fled from her father's house to the Chapel of the Porzioncula, where St. Francis dwelt, and put herself under his care. Her parents tried in vain to bring her back, and soon her younger sister, Agnes, and many other ladies of Assisi, joined her; and the Order of " Poor Clares" was instituted. Their Rule was as severe as that of St. Francis, and after a time St. Clara's health gave way. When the Saracens over-ran the neighbourhood of Assisi and approached the convent, St. Clara, though long bedridden, rose up, and taking the Pyx, containing the Host, placed it on the threshold, at the same time singing a psalm. The enemy fled. This miraculous deliverance brought great fame to the Order. St. Clara died, after much suffering, in 1253.

She is represented as a nun, in a grey habit with a cord, holding a cross or lily ; but her more distinctive attribute is the Pyx.

Frescoes by Giotto in Santa Croce, Florence, and in the Upper Church of San Francesco, Assisi.

CLEMENT,ST. (23rd November)

A disciple of SS. Peter and Paul, and third Bishop of Rome. In the reign of Trajan he was banished, together with other Christians, to an island, where they suffered great privations and had no water. According to the legend, in answer to St. Clement's prayers, a lamb appeared to him on a hill, and he, recognising it as a vision from Heaven, dug there, and a stream of water flowed forth. After this miracle he was tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea, but in answer to the prayers of his followers the waters drew back, and disclosed a small ruined temple in which was his body with the anchor round his neck. This miracle is said to have happened yearly, and pilgrims went to worship at the shrine. A woman, leaving her child there asleep, found it the next year unhurt.

He is represented as Pope, often with an anchor in his hand or beside him.

Frescoes in San Clemente, Rome, and picture by Ghirlandaio in Accademia, Florence.

CLOTILDA, ST. (3rd June)

A princess of Burgundy, who became the wife of Clovis, King of France. When in imminent danger of defeat by the Huns, Clovis commended himself to Clotilda's GOD, and, having obtained a complete victory, was baptised by St. Remi. In consequence of a vision by St. Clotilda, the three lilies (fleurs-de-lys), were substituted for the three frogs or toads (crapauds) in the arms of France.

She is represented in royal robes, with long white veil and jewelled crown ; either kneeling in prayer, or bestowing alms; or attended by an angel holding a shield bearing the three fleurs-de-lys.

CONSTANTINE, Emperor. (See St. Sylvester and St. Helena.) (20th January)


He was Bishop of Perugia in the third or fourth century, and was martyred in the reign of Marcus Aurelius.

He is often represented with San Ercolano.

Cosmo and Damian, SS. (Patrons of the Medici Family and of Doctors). (27th September)

Were two Arabian brothers who lived in Cilicia. They were brought up by their mother in every Christian virtue, and, in order to help the poor and sick, they studied medicine. They became the most distinguished physicians, but refused all payment for their services. According to the legend, in the reign of Diocletian they were imprisoned and then thrown into the sea,' but an angel preserved them. Then they were cast into the fire, but were not consumed ; and bound to crosses and stoned and shot at, but neither stones nor arrows could touch them, falling instead on those who threw them. Finally they were beheaded.

They are always represented together, dressed in red robes with fur, the habit of physicians ; they hold boxes or lancets in their hands. Sometimes they are tending the sick or performing operations. Very frequently introduced into paintings by Florentine artists—Fra Angelico, Lippo Lippi, Botticelli, and others.

CRISPIAN, ST. and CRISPIANUS, ST. (25th October)

Two brothers, shoemakers, who went with St. Denis, preaching the Gospel in France. They continued to work at their trade, making shoes for the poor without fee. They suffered martyrdom by the sword, at Soissons, about 300. They became popular in England as protectors of the Shoemakers' Guild.

They are represented together, with their cobblers' tools.



CUTHBERT, ST. (20th March)

A shepherd in the valley of the Tweed, who entered the monastery of Melrose, and afterwards dwelt for some years as an anchorite on Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, then a barren islet off the coast of Northumberland. At length he became Bishop of Lindisfarne, then the seat of the Northumbrian bishopric. Many wonders are recorded of him. After his death the see was removed to Durham, where his relics found their ultimate resting-place.

He is represented as a bishop, with an otter at his side, signifying his living in the midst of waters, or in allusion to the legend that one night, when he lay exhausted by his penance on the cold shore, two otters, by licking him, revived his benumbed limbs. But his more distinctive attribute is the crowned head of King Oswald, carried in his arms.

CYPRIAN, ST. (Bishop of Carthage). (16th September)

A celebrated Father of the Church, who was martyred in the reign of Valerian.

CYPRIAN, ST. (the Magician, of Antioch). (26th September)

Who, according to the legend, was called upon by Aglaidos, the lover of St. Justina, to help him to win her from her devotion to Christianity. Cyprian himself fell in love with her, but no tortures of his demons could move her, and when they acknowledged themselves powerless he was converted to the service of Justina's God. Together they preached and taught, and together they were beheaded, by command of Diocletian.

He is represented with palm and sword ; trampling on magical books ; generally with St. Justina.

CYRIL, ST. (of Alexandria). (28th January)

One of the Greek Fathers, generally represented with the other four, and distinguished in Byzantine art by name.

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