The Church of St. Catherine (ALEXANDRIA)
SITUATED ON ST. CATHERINE STREET, this church is one of the most picturesque churches in Egypt. St. Catherine of Alexandria, also known as St. Catherine of the Wheel, was a virgin who was martyred in Alexandria in the fourth century because of her Christian faith. She was tortured, tied to a wheel, and beheaded. She was highly venerated in medieval times, especially in France during the Crusades. The church was built on a plot which was given by Muhammad ‘Ali in 1835. Fr. Serafino da Bacceno designed the cathedral and it was consecrated by Archbishop Perpetuo Guasco on November 25, 1850. The cathedral boasts the largest organ in Egypt. It was brought from Italy and installed in the church in 1927.
On entering the church, one admires the ceiling, which is decorated by large medallions enclosing portraits of the saints Cyril, Antony, and Athanasius. The four spandrels of the dome are occupied by the four evangelists. One of the side altars shows the statue of St. Francis of Assisi flanked by statues of King Louis IX and St. Elizabeth. It is noteworthy that there is another statue of St. Francis of Assisi adorning the facade of the cathedral. The magnificent wooden pulpit is decorated with sculptures representing the life and martyrdom of St. Catherine of Alexandria. The upper part of the apse is decorated with a portrait of St. Clara. A large painting of St. Catherine, which is dated to 1948, hangs from the apse. The back of the altar is occupied by the tomb of Vittorio Emenuelle di Savoia (1869-1947); it is said that King Farouk attended his funerary procession.
Pulpit: The martyrdom of St. Catherine