Saint Catherine of AlexandriaThe story of Catherine of Alexandria is found in the 'Golden Legend'. She was supposed to have been a Christian convert of noble birth who, in a vision, was married to the Infant Christ, as in Parmigianino's painting of 'The Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine' in the Collection.
The Roman emperor Maxentius sent 50 philosophers to persuade her to abandon her faith, but she, by her argument, converted them to Christianity.
She was tortured by being bound to four wheels with spikes in them. These were destroyed by a miraculous thunderbolt, but she was eventually beheaded. A wheel, as her attribute, is usually included in paintings of her.
Her cult began in the 9th century on Mount Sinai, where her body was supposed to have been transported by angels.
The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN