Collection: St. Catherine of Alexandria

ARTIST: Museum Religious Art Classics


Artist: Bernardo Strozzi – c. 1615

Bernardo Strozzi trained as an artist for only a short time before becoming a Capuchin monk in 1598. He continued painting as a friar, producing portraits of St. Francis. When his father died in 1610, Strozzi took a leave from monastic duties to support his mother and sister through painting. His career was so successful that he avoided returning to the monastery, even at the expense of an 18-month prison sentence! St. Catherine of Alexandria depicts a legendary virgin martyr who lived during the early days of Christianity. Famed for her beauty and intelligence, she persuaded many pagan philosophers to convert to Christianity. She was martyred when work of her conversions angered the emperor Maxentius. In a first attempt at executing her, Catherine was subjected to a cruel torture device shaped like a spiked wheel. Taking pity on her, angels broke the device, but the spiked wheel is still used an iconographic signifier for the saint.

Her feast day is November 25.