The Passion of St. Catherine

1518
Stained glass
Frauenkirche, Munich, Germany

In the two panels of the central image, Catherine prays to the Lord above her while a torturer in blue beats her with rods. Behind her two other men represent the group that led her bloodied through the streets.

On the right Maxentius, on horseback and pointing at Catherine, directs the torments. Behind him a man in blue bends his head and closes his eyes. Most likely he is one of the fatigued men of whom Capgrave says, "The tormentors…beat her with iron rods.… When those men were worn out, fresh ones took their place (Winstead, 152)."

On the left, one of Maxentius's men turns the crank on the torture wheel, even while a force from Heaven sends wind and fire to destroy it. Wind and fire are in Capgrave (ibid., 165) but not in the other sources I have studied.

The actual beheading of St. Catherine is not pictured.

In the bottom register, a man on the left pours out a white liquid. Most of the medieval vitae speak of milk that flowed instead of blood from Catherine's trunk when she was beheaded, but perhaps the liquid refers to the oil that the same texts say has continued through the years to flow "abundantly" from the saint's tomb and to have cured many who were sick.

The panel on the right has King Solomon but is probably not original to this window: It does not continue the design of the panel above it, whereas the panel on the left does.

In the center is an Anna Selbdritt – St. Anne with the Christ Child on one knee and Mary on the other, attended by a bishop saint and a donor named in the inscription below as one "Gismar."

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More of St. Catherine

Photographed at the church by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.