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May 13, 2013

Medieval Mondays: St Catherine: the saint saved from the wheels

Hello again! As I mentioned before, I've been busy writing The Maze of Mist, my fantasy novel set in the same world as Roots Run Deep. Now that that's in edits, I can get back to blogging.

This fine alabaster carving from London's Victoria & Albert Museum was made in England in the 15th century. It shows angels releasing St Catherine from certain death on the spiked wheel, a particularly nasty form of medieval execution. According to legend the wheel shattered and the flying pieces killed her executioners and the people who had gathered around to watch.

Of course she ends up martyred when another group of executions behead her. This is a common element in saints' stories. The evildoers are punished, but since it's God's will that the saint be martyred, the saint eventually gets killed.

Small alabaster plaques like these were common in churches and private homes during this period. What's unusual with this image is that St. Catherine is shown half naked.

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