Elizabeth Lev has a good piece on Zenit dated 2005-12-01 (it’s the fourth from the top). I can’t figure out how to link individual stories there, and after putzing around for five minutes, the best I can say is to look for the headline starting “A More-Than-Academic Visit; Brains and Beauty …”
The former refers to Benedict XVI’s visit to the Pontifical Academies for the Sciences and Social Sciences at which Lev reports:
The Holy Father returned the greetings of the Academy, expressing his pleasure with the chosen topic of “The Concept of the Person in the Social Sciences.” He stated that the “human person is at the heart of the whole social order,” and that the “status of the human person” is a “theme which must continue to be part of the dialogue with science.”
And a bit of the background behind the martyr whom I often refer to in my “shortened” litany of saints with the protomartyr: “St Stephen, St Catherine, and all martyrs”
St. Catherine lived in the early fourth century under the reign of Emperor Maximinus who was cruelly persecuting Christians in Alexandria. The well-educated daughter of King Costus met with the emperor and berated him for torturing Christians and worshipping false idols. (B)esotted by her beauty and enraged by her eloquence, Maximinus found himself unable to refute her arguments and assembled the 50 most learned men in Egypt. They were ordered to lead Catherine into error and contradiction through their sophistry. They failed, converted and died martyrs encouraged and comforted by Catherine.
The empress, curious about such an exceptional young woman, arranged to meet the saint and she too converted and was put to death. The emperor, infuriated at the conversion of his scholars, soldiers and consort, decided to devise an exemplary death to deter the further spread of Christianity. Maximinus created a spiked wheel intended to rend and tear the flesh of the 18-year-old woman. St. Catherine, fearless before traps of the mind and tortures of the body, knelt and prayed before the machine, which was miraculously destroyed.
The emperor finally had Catherine beheaded and she was buried on Mount Sinai where later a church and monastery would be founded.