Catherine’s story is pieced together from fragments of legends. She was the daughter of the king of Alexandria and showed great erudition already from an early age. After converting to Christianity she had a vision in which she underwent a mystic marriage with Christ. This vision was depicted in painting from the 14th century and presents Catherine kneeling before the Virgin while the Christ Child places a ring on her finger.
The Roman emperor Maxentius desired Catherine and tried to undermine her faith. He summoned 50 philosophers to dissuade her from her Christian ideas. In the end, however, all of the philosophers had been converted instead. This became a popular subject in art. Maxentius ordered Catherine to be tortured on a spike-studded wheel. When the wheel was destroyed by a thunderbolt the emperor had her beheaded. In art the saint is usually depicted with her attributes, the wheel and sword.