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141 B o o k 5 Katherine’s Martyrdom Prologue: Katherine the Rose (1–63) The time has now come—at last, after all our attention to other matters—to return and savor the sweetness of this pure virgin, of this delicious flower, which grew here on earth with five branches.1 You’ve seen the first, second, third, and fourth, if you’ve read everything so far. Now the fifth will be revealed to you, for now I want to call this lady a rose, richly sprung from five branches. The red that glowed within her was her martyrdom. The five green leaves signify her life, which divides into five parts, just as we have divided it into five books. Now, here’s the last. These five leaves are arranged on the stalk such that they cling together and protect the red flowers from the wind before they open; after they open, the leaves rest under the same sweet flowers—this indicates that her life was marked by martyrdom and by the sharp afflictions she suffered for Christ, for in various works I have often read that martyrdom has a sovereign dignity above all spiritual virtues. Thus this rose grew out of the thorny briar when this martyr was born of heathens. I will yet tell you, if you wish to hear, why these leaves cling so: three of them are fuzzy and two are naked, having neither points nor fuzz—thus they are accustomed to 142 The Life of Saint Katherine of Alexandria grow in our garden. These five leaves, as I just said, indicate the books that we have in hand: two of them cover the time during which this lady, as I understand, lived as a heathen, along with all the rest of her land. Therefore, they are naked in token of this lady’s living in blindness. I call her blind during that part of her life, for she was not baptized, nor did she have much ­ curiosity about heavenly things—she hadn’t forsaken her old views. Christ awakened her from this blindness in our third book, as we said—there’s no need to rehearse it again now. The other three fuzzy leaves are what one might call leaves of virtue. They reveal to the entire world that she has an unfailing grace. Thus her leaves are endowed and ever shall be: they are green and will be always, reigning with Christ in felicity. In her honor I will now proceed to my fifth book, in which I will speak of her martyrdom, as the story dictates—how God broke the wheels in his cause and took great vengeance on the people. This will now be translated anew from the Latin, to honor God and Saint Katherine.2 Chapters 1–6: The Scholars’ Martyrdom (1/64–98) When these scholars had thus acknowledged their error and their false belief, the emperor’s heart sank in sorrow . Now he alone was left to speak, for the company was entirely converted. Thus, with an angry face and scornful words, he said to them, “Damn your learning! We were sure that you could put everything right. Now all our expense and all our planning are wasted! You’ve robbed me of worldly happiness­ — no, I misspoke, I mean spiritual, not worldly, happiness, for our faith is about spiritual joy. Don’t you hear what the people are saying now? They say a maiden has converted fifty peerless scholars here. They say they want to obtain that same faith— poor and rich alike! If only you’d been buried in a ditch when you came here, for now all’s lost: labor, knowledge, travel, and great expense. Renew your spirits so that you lose neither your Katherine’s Martyrdom 143 knowledge nor your fame. Think of what I promised you— honor and money! Lift up your hearts, men, for shame. Don’t be afraid, for if you are, you’ll lose your reputation. Speak to this woman, bear her down with reason so that you’re worthy to wear the crown of knowledge. You stand there so lifelessly. Where’s your knowledge gone that a woman has stunned you like this? By holy ­ Saturn, I’d have thought that one of you might have dealt with nine of her! You act as if you’re tied up. How can you defend your learning when it comes to nothing when it’s needed?” (2/99–154) The greatest...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780268076955
Related ISBN
9780268044268
MARC Record
OCLC
797816810
Pages
168
Launched on MUSE
2012-09-21
Language
English
Open Access
No
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