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Saint Catherine was among the most popular virgin martyrs during this period and was particularly venerated in Dürer’s hometown of Nuremberg for her intermediary role between the faithful and God. A princess from Alexandria, Catherine was condemned to die on spiked wheels by the Roman emperor Maxentius because of her Christian faith. In answer to her prayers, God destroyed the wheels with such force that 4,000 pagans were killed. Afterward, Catherine was willingly decapitated. Dürer’s focus on Catherine’s peaceful acceptance in the midst of destruction conveys the power she derived from her chastity and unwavering faith, providing an excellent example for ordinary women to follow.

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