St Catherine met her maker in 305AD. Reputedly she refused to turn away from her devout Christian faith despite the pagan Emperor Maximinus II's best attempts. She failed to crack under pressure when he tortured her and then turned down his marriage proposal [one would think she had probably already drawn her own conclusions about what type of husband he might make judging by his previous form!]. Frustrated by his inability to force her to yield to his will he condemned her to die on a spiked wheel. Even this plan was thwarted when it shattered upon her touch so he ordered that she be executed by beheading instead. So next time you have a Catherine Wheel as part of your firework display spare poor old Cath a thought!
She is a much celebrated figure in France and has been adopted by the lacemakers in this country. Very much a women's saint she is one to whom spinsters traditionally prayed to help them find a husband. This is an English prayer summing up quite nicely what your average unmarried dame was after when she appealed to St Cath for her services:
A husband, St Catherine
A handsome one, St Catherine
A rich one, St Catherine
A nice one, St Catherine
And soon, St Catherine.
It was traditional to feast upon Cattern cakes accompanied by Hot Pot [ a rather evil sounding hot combination of rum, beer and eggs] to mark the day and celebrate her legacy.