Thursday, November 25, 2004

Opening Convocation

Haec est Virgo sapiens, et una de numero prudentum.

Welcome, one and all, to the Saint Catharine's Day Pageant here at Siris. Today we celebrate the Feast of Queen Saint Catharine of Alexandria, Virgin and Great Martyr. I thought that, Patrick and Valentine have their days, so why not Catharine. There was a time when the Feast of Saint Catharine, Virgin Martyr, was one of the most celebrated holidays in Europe. No more, alas. But Saint Catharine is patroness of philosophers, orators, lawyers, and theologians, so (particularly in virtue of the first and last), it seemed a good thing to start up something, just to celebrate the good things that come from being one of those who have a passion to know. For a basic introduction to folklore associated with the Feast of Saint Catharine, see here. If it is not too impudent, I would like to put here the Collect of the Day:

O God, who on Mount Sinai didst give the law to Moses, and afterwards, through the ministry of holy Angels, didst mystically give rest thereon to the body of blessed Catherine thy Virgin and Martyr : grant, we beseech thee ; that, by her intercession, we may be brought unto that mountain which is Christ. Who liveth and reigneth with thee.

And close with an old poem-prayer about Catharine:

O, holy virgin, Catharine,
Thou who with science, all divine,
Didst foil the world's philosophy;
Oh, make our life and death like thine
In rule of holy discipline,
That like to thine, our crown may be!

Haec est Virgo sapiens, quam Dominus vigilantem invenit.

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