of Alexandria, 376-444. Doctor of the Incarnation, Feast June
Listen to this quote from Cyril and reflect: "Because the Son is God from God, in some mysterious way he passes this honor on to us." Believe it or not, we become God by participation, not by nature.
Jesus, himself, told us that we are gods and he was quoting scripture when he said so.
Annunciation was a happening in which God's promise was fulfilled.
Christians believe that Christ is alive today in flesh when we act
charitable and wherever genuine love resides. God became Flesh yesterday because the Almighty wanted
to redeem all human flesh. He is Flesh today to sanctify us through
divine gifts. He is Flesh in the future because he who was dead is
now alive and he lives forever Body and Spirit.
what we believe in mystery. Cyril was most instrumental in
formulating information about this faith. The Flesh of Jesus Christ,
the Man-God, and born in time from his Mother, was also uncreated
from eternity with the Father and Spirit.
resulted from an event between Mary and one of God's messengers.
This event, although it happened a long time ago, is tremendously
beautiful to Christians. Devout believers commemorate this event
three times each day through the simple, yet elegant, Angelus
Prayer. Perhaps, the Franciscans introduced the practice of
reciting the Hail Mary in honor of the Incarnation in 1263. It
consists of three Hail Marys and commemorates the Angel Gabriel
coming to ask Mary if she would be the Mother of God. When Mary said
yes, the eternal Word entered into our world of time. As a human
being in the womb of the Virgin, he was subject to the laws of nature
The reason this prayer has been perpetuated so
faithfully for so long by Christians is because its reality contains a message
and meaning that is vitally important and powerful throughout history.
This event changed the entire course of civilization. Cyril had a
major role in expressing that history. This meeting, between an
unknown Jewish girl, Mary, and the Archangel, Gabriel, is really not
only a request by God to Mary. It is also a request by God to all
creatures through Mary to share in a profound mystery and blessing.
This happening is a mystery beyond all mysteries. It is too profound
to be understood clearly and too good to be appreciated fully. The
best way to respond to it is to believe and practice it
Thanks to Cyril, Christians, and especially
Catholics, owe immense gratitude. The Church maintains primarily
through St Cyril and the forefathers of the church that our ancient,
catholic faith has as its foundation that Jesus Christ is both in
his human and divine nature truly God. Thus, not only by reason of
Mary's birth of Jesus is she truly the Mother of God. Strange as it
may sound, Mary is the Mother of God by reason of Jesus' divine
nature and her giving birth.
Exactly as one mother-to-be
accepted for all humankind, one messenger from God was instrumental
in announcing that all humankind would receive a loving Messiah, as
promised by God. God is ever faithful. All the messages and words in
the gospels that the Messiah imparts to us, also enable us to be faithful
to God when we believe.
As Mary, we too can say yes to all
that God requests. As Mary had Gabriel in a special manner at the
right time, we too, are told by the Divine Messenger, Jesus, that we
have an angel that always sees the face of our Father. Our angel is
exclusively ours as Gabriel was exclusively for Mary. Although
angelic occurrences are recorded in the Old Testament, this
encounter and happening with Mary is by far the most important,
single, beginning event of our faith.
Our faithfulness in
responding to God's will enables us to appreciate and cherish our
faith. We can respond to that faith as Mary did. Although this is a
very important message, we must not think that God speaks only once.
God, through many sources including our angel, is always
communicating messages as Gabriel was constantly guiding Mary. We do
not know exactly how God communicates with people but often it is
interiorly and not visibly except in rare instances.
Cyril's major role was to help establish Mary as the Mother of God
through his writings, life and influences. Mary's roles in the church
now has been firmly established and her Motherhood and Queenship for
all humanity are worldwide both from a traditional and doctrinal
aspect. The Doctor of the Incarnation would be pleased to know that
among our state's devotional titles to Mary are Massachusetts, which
is called Our Lady of the Incarnation, Texas, which is, called Our
Lady of the Annunciation and Kentucky which is called the Mother of God.
However, each state has a devotional title for Mary. You will find
this information in the form of a litany at the end of Cyril's life.
Cyril may be the
most controversial among the doctors. He certainly was the most
disliked, and perhaps hated, as St Bernard, among the Jews, because
of his harsh treatment toward them, even though he had the best of
There is never any justification for violence.
Our wounded human nature attempts to justify our violence through
holy causes or sacred missions. Original sin is powerfully lethal
because it is blind, ignorant and, at times, parades as virtuous and
victorious. St Mary, alone, our sister escaped this curse because of
God's intention of having our Redeemer born through his pure Virgin, Queen,
Our most passionate and devoted defender of
Mary, perhaps more than any other doctor, has been characterized as
ruthless. However, many reports lack solid evidence and are based on
opinions of those who disliked Cyril. The pope of his day called him
a good defender of the Catholic faith and a complete
Let us look at the more noble aspect of Cyril. Any
person who prays the Hail Mary ought to be very appreciative to
Cyril for the words, "Mother of God". These are probably attributed
more to him than any other doctor. This title is so sublime and so
misunderstood that faith, alone, can accept it in all of its rich
This champion of Mary's Divine Motherhood,
throughout his lifetime, made it a rule, never to advance any
doctrine, which he had not learned, from the ancient Fathers. It was
not that he was "hung up" on tradition. He was well read on writers
outside the church-profane writers.
Cyril was amazingly
creative and most wondrously open to God's Spirit who instilled in
him the insistence that Jesus had two natures. This idea can not be
ascertained by reason but only by faith. These two natures of Jesus
Christ are in no way a contradiction.
Furthermore, he held
that there is only one person in Christ. To imagine that there are
two persons in any individual is not normal, common sense. To state
that there are two natures in Jesus Christ is solid supernatural
sense. It is a mystery that the stubborn and tenacious Cyril upheld
vigorously without exception. The Church defeated the priest-monk
Nestorious and its accompanied heresy more because of his erroneous
thinking of two distinct persons than because of Cyril's insistence
on Christ's two natures which can not be proven logically or
The importance of condemning the Nestorian heresy
which surfaced over this issue and the establishing of Mary's
authentic part as "God-bearer" and not only as "Christ-bearer" is
central to our faith, enjoyment and our sanctification. At the
Council of Ephesus in 431, Cyril favored the title, Theotokos, Mary
as God-bearer and it was because of this important foundational
understanding that he was declared a Doctor of the Church. Cyril
paid for his action and words at the Council of Ephesus by being
deposed and imprisoned.
He was a great teacher and bishop of
Catholicism and he began his church position as archbishop of
Alexandria in Egypt. His principal fame rest upon his defense of
catholic doctrine against Nestorius.
Mary is supremely
distinct because she is the Immaculate Conception. However, we must
not be shocked that we too are God-bearers as Mary. Through our
faith and celebration of the Eucharist, we are given through the
church, the identical Body of Christ when we partake of Holy
Communion. It is the same body Mary carried in her womb.
is perhaps fitting that we celebrate Cyril's feast day very close to
the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. How is it that we
touch his Flesh so frequently and yet seem unchanged ourselves? We
know from scripture that when Christ was physically touched in his
lifetime as we are in holy communion, great power escaped or flowed
out from him to the believer because of his faith. This will encourage us to
examine our faith and attitude toward his Body and Blood when we
approach the holy table of the Lord.
Perhaps, Cyril is
clearly an example of how an impulsive, and often, violently, prone
person, as some of us are, can become changed with God's graces and
gifts. When we are bruised or beaten down either psychologically or
physically, our nature reacts in defense.
Cyril channeled his
energies toward a great good and in the process of learning and
striving became mellow and surrendered his life to God and admitted
his errors. In his misdirected and blinding zeal to keep the church
free from any corruption and intrusion, he overstepped his bounds.
He pillaged and closed the churches of heretics, participated in the
deposing of other catholic bishops, confiscated Jewish property and
expelled the Jews from Alexandria in retaliation for their attacks
on Christians. Who is free from error or sin but
Christians can never endorse violence in any form but
many have used it by being misled or used it for their own purposes
although it may appear at the time to be the best recourse. There is
never any justification for this but sometime in the heat of battle,
most of us have made serious mistakes, done the wrong thing, or
During this period Cyril was witnessing
continual battles. Because of internal corruption and relentless
incursion of barbarian armies from the north, the Roman Empire was
crumbling. With the last Christian emperor on the way out, and Cyril
sensing that, he attempted to rule with an iron hand. He outlawed
paganism and punished dissidents unmercifully. There seems to be no
doubt that Cyril was treating others the way he was being treated.
This never works effectively. It takes heroic virtues and a lifetime
to master the gift of being nice to people who are not nice to us.
Cyril was attempting to do his own political maneuvering and that
seldom works successfully and never in the eyes of
Holiness is a blessing and a gift from God. It takes a
lifetime, if we are lucky, to get on the same wavelength as the Holy
Spirit. It is he who must guide us in each and every detail of our
life if we are to be holy. The greater our interaction with people,
the greater is our challenge. We are frail human beings as Cyril and
we require the correct climate to remain unscathed by ignorance and
sin. Our life as Cyril involves a lot of zigzagging.
Cyril-and that's a big if- had been more patient and diplomatic, the
Nestorian church might not have risen and maintained power so long.
But even saints must grow out of immaturity, narrowness and
selfishness. It is only by daily battles, trials and life's
vicissitudes that we grow in charity, goodness and are purified by
God's continually help and mercy. I have used many of Leonard
Foley's ideas from his book, Saint of the Day, on this website. He
has written beautifully on each doctor.
The following quote
is from the New Catholic Encyclopedia and it expresses Cyril's
theme. It is also taken from Foley's book. "Only if it is the one
and the same Christ who is consubstantial with the Father and with
men can He save us for the meeting ground between God and man is the
flesh of Christ. Only if this is God's own flesh can man come into
contact with Christ's divinity through his humanity. Because of our
kinship with the Word made flesh we are sons of God. The Eucharist
consummates our kinship with the word, our communion with the
Father, our sharing in the divine nature-there is very real contact
between our body and that of the Word."
More than himself,
God could not give. Less than himself, he would not give. We can
state that God could not give any less. God gives each person the
necessary time to find the Deity and that can be for some a lifetime
while for others it is everyday. Merely to receive the Eucharist, but once, is an invaluable and precious gift, but
God calls some to a greater good daily. But, to
whom much is given, much shall be required.
In his older age
Cyril had become mellowed, more holy and wiser. He offered policies of
moderation. Despite pressure on his deathbed, he refused to condemn
the teachers of Nestorius. Grace had hit its target and Cyril had
finally learned from his earlier manner of treating people. If
people could do that before they pass over to the other side, they
would find peace, comfort and forgiveness even in this short
God knows that we all need reconciliation and peace
with others and mercy is always bestowed on each of us before we
die. That truth is evident in Jesus' own life and it's true with all
humanity according to the holy will of God. However, often it is
hidden and frequently our humanity can not fathom the unlimited
mercy and favors of the Almighty.
The below prayer is a salute
to Mary attributed to St Cyril of Alexandria:
"We salute you, O Mary,
Mother of God, treasure of the universe, inextinguishable flame,
crown of virginity, scepter of the true Faith, indestructible
temple, tabernacle of the One Whom the world cannot contain, and
Mother and Virgin. In your virginal womb you enclosed the Immense
and Incomprehensible One.
Through you the Trinity is
glorified and the Cross is celebrated and adored everywhere on
earth. Through you the heavens exult with joy, the Angels and
Archangels are glad, demons are put to flight, the demon temptor is
cast out of heaven, and our fallen nature has again been assumed
It is through you that the only-begotten Son of
God, Who is light, shone amid the nations who were seated in
darkness and the shadow of death. What human voice can ever worthily
celebrate the ineffable greatness of Mary? She is Mother and Virgin
at the same time. Through her peace has been restored to the world.
What peace? Our Lord Jesus Christ, whom Mary has brought
Mary's role in God's plan of redemption for the
entire human race started from the beginning of time. God knew
mankind would fall and that we would need a Redeemer. Had not the
angels caused a revolt in heaven? Had not Satan challenged God with
his heinous pride and sin of disobedience? God, the Planner, had a
back-up plan and God prepared his Mother-to-be and Son though the
We might implore Mary through her able
doctor Cyril to correct any acts or intentions against charity. Any
transgression against charity is violent-prone despite the minor
degree it involves. Can any offense against God be considered minor?
As our Lady helped Cyril become transformed against his hostile acts
toward the Jews and non-believers, we can be assured that our Lady
will guide us to be nice and kind to all those for which the
Incarnation was meant-the entire human race.
God will also forgive us our trespasses. We, too, have
trespassed although we may have had good intentions and may be
ignorant of our sins due to weaknesses and spiritual blindness. We
become pure only when God purifies us. We see as God only with
grace, beatitudes practiced, divine blessings and favors from
All the doctors of the church advocated going to Mary
for divine favors. After all, did she not receive the most prized
favor of all?
The Mariological movement, seminars, conference and
literature are superabundant. The Queen of Peace Newspaper in
Pittsburgh offers an incredible amount of information on the Holy
Mother of God. Their address is 6111 Steubenville Pike, McKees
Rocks, PA 15136.
I am very grateful to them for the most
fascinating stories about our Catholic faith, saints and tradition.
By researching books and the Internet, one will discovery Mary down through the ages from 1347 to present
day in powerful manifestations especially during this generation.
Authors have written abundantly about Mary, our Mother.
contributions by Cyril toward the catholic faith and the holy Mother
of God have caused the growth of Marian devotion worldwide. He
affirmed Mary's role as Mediatrix and God used her to accomplish
everything concerning salvation and our sanctification. He tells us
that the prophets, scripture, both Old and New Testaments, point to
Mary. It is through her intercession and through her unique role and
example that every faithful soul achieves salvation. Without Mary we
would have no Redeemer of the Universe and no Man-God that would
empower human beings to imitate him. Now we have a perfect Model,
Victim and Priest through a humble role that all can identify and
The way to God, Cyril affirms, is strait, narrow,
rugged and steep. We are on an arduous, spiritual journey. Who can
help us the most? Certainly God's Spirit dwells in us to guide and
grace us. However, God's own Mother, wants us to imitate her Son and
who better can guide and grace us. She who is full of grace delights
to form and fashion us according to his image. We must recall that
Christ came into our world through Mary and when he departed out of
this world on the cross, gave her again to us when he said,"Behold
your Mother". As Cyril fixed his eyes on Mary so must we in order to
imitate her divine Son and Savior. No devout catholic can doubt the holy Virgin to be the Mother of Jesus and thus called the Mother of God.
Surely she must be the Mother of God if our Lord Jesus Christ is God, and she gave birth to him! Our Lord's disciples may not have used those exact words,
but they delivered to us the belief those words enshrine, and this has also been taught us by the holy fathers.
The divinely inspired scriptures affirm that the word of God was made Flesh, that is to say, he was united to a human body endowed with a
rational soul. He undertook to help the descendants of Abraham, fashioning a body for himself from a woman and sharing our flesh and blood,
to enable us to see in him not only God, but also, by reason of this union, a man like ourselves.
It is held, therefore, that there is in Emmanuel two entities, divinity and humanity. Yet our Lord Jesus Christ is nonetheless one, the one true Son,
both God and man; not a deified man on the same footing as those who share the divine nature by grace, but true God who for our sake appeared
in human form. We are assured of this by Saint Paul's declaration: "When the fullness of time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born
under the law, to redeem those who were under the law and to enable us to be adopted as sons.
From a letter by Saint Cyril of Alexandria
TODAY IS ALSO A FEAST OF OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP
The picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour is painted on wood, with background of gold. It is Byzantine in style and is supposed to have
been painted in the thirteenth century. It represents the Mother of God holding the divine Child while the Archangels Michael and Gabriel present
before him the instruments of his Passion. Over the figures in the picture are some Greek letters which form the abbreviated words Mother of God,
Jesus Christ, Archangel Michael, and Archangel Gabriel respectively.
It was brought to Rome towards the end of the fifteenth century by a pious merchant, who, dying there, ordered by his will that the picture
should be exposed in a church for public veneration. It was exposed in the church of San Matteo, Via Merulana, between Saint Mary Major and Saint John
Lateran. Crowds flocked to this church, and for nearly three hundred years many graces were obtained through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin.
The picture was then popularly called the Madonna di San Matteo. The church was served for a time by the Hermits of Saint Augustine,
who had sheltered their Irish brethren in their distress.
These Augustinians were still in charge when the French invaded Rome (1812) and destroyed
the church. The picture disappeared; it remained hidden and neglected for over forty years, but a series of providential circumstances between
1863 and 1865 led to its discovery in an oratory of the Augustinian Fathers at Santa Maria in Posterula. The pope, Pius IX, who as a boy had prayed
before the picture in San Matteo, became interested in the discovery and in a letter dated 11 Dececember 1865 to Father General Mauron,
C.SS.R., ordered that Our Lady of Perpetual Succour should be again publicly venerated in Via Merulana, and this time at the new church of Saint
The ruins of San Matteo were in the grounds of the Redemptorist Convent. This was but the first favour of the Holy Father
towards the picture. He approved of the solemn translation of the picture (26 April, 1866), and its coronation by the Vatican Chapter
(23 June, 1867). He fixed the feast as duplex secundae classis, on the Sunday before the Feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist,
and by a decree dated May 1876, approved of a special office and Mass for the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.
This favour later on was also granted to others. Learning that the devotion to Our Lady under this title had spread far and wide,
Pius IX raised a confraternity of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour and Saint Alphonsus, which had been erected in Rome, to the rank of an
arch-confraternity and enriched it with many privileges and indulgences. He was among the first to visit the picture in its new home, and his name
is the first in the register of the arch-confraternity.
Two thousand three hundred facsimiles of the holy picture have been sent from Saint Alphonsus's church in Rome to every part of the world.
At the present day not only altars, but churches and dioceses (e.g. in England, Leeds and Middlesborough; in the United States, Savannah) are dedicated
to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. In some places, as in the United States, the title has been translated Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
Letter and Prayer from Cyril
Taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia, copyright 1911, article by J Magnier
Patronage, diocese of Salina, Kansas, diocese of Savannah, Georgia,
more about Mary on this site:
Cyril of Alexandria sites:
doctor of the Incarnation would wholehearted endorse developing a
solid spirituality to keep charity most active. One particular
website entitled Spirituality Today is linked below:
A link of Saint Cyril of Alexandria from the web site of the ministry of Dr Marcellino D'Ambrosio is listed below.
Saint Cyril of Alexandria
The below web site contains comprehensive resources on our church, faith, the bible, saints, writings, apologetics, evangelization, family issues, links, and many pertinent services. This superior and highly organized web site (see Table of Content) is a most fascinating site with beautiful prayers, devotions, and really too much to enumerate. A truly universal catholic site.
The below site is a comprehensive site with many Marian links:
TITLES OF MARY FOR THE 50 STATES AMD THE NATION'S CAPITAL. THESE
TITLES ARE ALSO LISTED UNDER ST BERNARD, THE DEVOTIONAL
AL Our Lady of the Gulf
AK Our Lady of the Kodiak and the
AZ Our Lady of the Highways
AR Our Lady of the Holy Souls
Our Lady of the Wayside
CO Immaculate Mary
CT Notre Dame of Easton
DE Our Lady of Mercy
FL Our Lady of LaLeche
GA Immaculate Heart of
HI Star of the Sea
ID Our Lady of Limerick
IL Our Lady of the
IN Our Lady of Providence
IA St Mary of Nazareth
Queen of Angels
KY Mother of God
LA Our Lady of Prompt Succor
Lady of Peace
MD Our Lady of the Assumption
MA Our Lady of the
MI Gate of Heaven
MN Mother of the Church
MS Our Lady of
MO Our Lady of Calvary
MT Our Lady of the Pines
NE Our Lady
of the Presentation
NV Our Lady of Las Vegas
NH Our Lady of
NJ Our Lady of Fatima
NM Our Lady of Guadalupe
Help of Christians
NC Our Lady of the Holy Rosary
ND St Mary Queen
OH Our Lady of Consolation
OK Queen of All Saints
Lady of the Woods
PA Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
RI Our Lady of
SC St Mary the Virgin Mother
SD Our Lady of the Prairie
TN Our Lady of Lourdes
TX Our Lady of the Annunciation
UT Our Lady
of the Snows
VT Our Lady of Grace
VA Queen of the Apostles
Lady of Good Help
WA,DC Our Immaculate Queen
WV Our Lady of Victory
WI Our Lady of the Americas
WY St Mary of the
This article was published in the Magnificat some time ago. See * below.
According to an old English legend of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, her young life of study and learning, of chastity and wisdom, culminated with her baptism and a dream she had thereafter:
“And Mary presented Catherine to the Lord of Glory, saying, ‘Lo! She has been baptized, and I myself have been her god-mother!’ then the Lord smiled upon her and held out his hand and plighted his troth to her, putting a ring on her finger. When Catherine awoke, remembering her dream, she looked and saw the ring upon her finger; and henceforth she regarded herself as the betrothed of Christ…thinking only of the day which would reunite her with her celestial and espoused Lord. “
For nearly a millennium, Catherine of Alexandria was one of the most celebrated female saints in Christendom. She was the embodiment of feminine excellence. She was the patroness of philosophy, of eloquence, of libraries. Her image graced churches everywhere and her symbol of martyrdom, the spiked wheel known as the “Catherine Wheel,” was readily identifiable.
Spinners, lacemakers, wheelwrights, cart drivers, ropeworkers, carpenters, millers, and anyone working in a trade connected with wheels invoked her aid and celebrated her feast.
And then she disappeared.
With the changes after Vatican II, many of the venerable old saints who had graced the liturgical calendar for centuries were removed in order to achieve diversity and make room for the saints. Saints Christopher, Valentine, Linus, Maurice, Edward the Confessor, and most of the ancient virgin martyrs, like Catherine, were cut from the calendar celebrated by the universal Church.
As time marches on, new Christian heroes emerge. Yet older saints managed to gain new significance, like Agatha, who is now invoked against breast cancer, and the plague-saint, Sebastian, who is today invoked by those suffering from AIDS. Significantly, the memory of Catherine of Alexandria managed to endure for the last four decades even though her feast was not celebrated. She remains a potent female figure , so much so that she was recently reinstated on the liturgical calendar. And she has retuned to her old feast day of November 25.
Like so many of the displaced saints, Catherine’s story is shrouded in legend. She was reputedly a princess of Egypt renowned for her beauty and intelligence. Through study she was attracted to Christianity, and the vision of mystical marriage crowned her conversion. Constantine the Great, who would one day be emperor and take up the Christian cause after receiving her own religious vision, was reportedly her relative. But his predecessor in the east, Maximin, was a tyrant who persecuted the Christians. When Maximin arrived in Alexandria, Catherine left her palace sanctuary to defend openly the Christian community. She engaged fifty of his philosophers in public debate and converted them all. Her high rank and her youth might have protected her, but she continued to denounce Maximin and his pagan ways. When he tried to seduce her, she rebuked him with horror and disgust. He then threw her into prison where she converted her jailers. Maximin executed all of her converts, and planned for her an exquisite death. She was to be tortured and executed on a spiked wheel. But when she was bound to it, a mighty hailstorm fell from the heavens, breaking up the wheel and killing her executioners. She was finally beheaded with a sword, which, along, with the wheel, because one of her saintly attributes.
In this Hungarian panel painting (shown in the Magnificat Publication , previously published.* This splendid, sectional feature contains gorgeous illustrations and text and comes each month. The text is by written Father Michael Morris, O.P. and this information came from that source.)
Catherine sits on the Madonna’s right. It is an interesting altarpiece with an intricate iconography that could have been easily understood by Christian observers in the year 1500. Catherine receives the ring of her betrothal from the child Jesus while holding in her lap her broken wheel. It would have projected the wrong ideas had the artist portrayed Christ as an adult. There, the purity of this mystical union is preserved by representing Christ as an infant sitting on his mother’s knee.
Catherine is in the company of women, all once-celebrated virgin martyrs whose fabulous legends contributed to their liturgical demise. They wear crowns of glory. The Blessed Virgin Mary sits as Queen cloaked in white, surrounded by her female court. On the lower left, Saint Barbara, another paragon of learning, who was confined to a tower by her jealous pagan father. When she converted to Christianity, she had three windows cut into the tower to honor the Trinity. Her enraged father then took her to a mountaintop and executed her himself, only to be obliterated afterwards by thunderous lightning. This made Barbara the patron saint of explosives, armaments, and gunsmiths. Across from her sits Margaret of Antioch holding a dragon on a leash. While imprisoned for being a Christian, she was accosted by the devil. He appeared as a dragon, and devoured her in one gulp. But she brandished a cross and burst through his belly, making her the patron saint of childbirth. Lastly, Saint Dorothy holds a basket of flowers. At her martyrdom in the dead of winter, she sent the flowers to one of her scoffers who was converted by the unseasonable gift. Dorothy is a patron saint of flower vendors.
A garden enclosed by a high wall, a “hortus conclusus” is the symbol of virginity in Christian iconography. Here the virgins are not in a protected garden, but a cloth of honor kept in place by two attendant angels, acts as a symbolic substitute. Angels are so credited with having transported the remains of Saints Catherine to Mount Sinai, where an ancient monastery founded in the sixth century venerates her memory to this day.
The Second Vatican Council mandated that all seminarians learn to interpret and appreciate Christian art, but it is an order that has largely gone unheeded. Thus the stories and symbols of a rich Catholic heritage rift slowly into obscurity.