The More Famous Female Martyr-Philosopher of Alexandria

The Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment world need martyrs, so they’ve picked Hypatia. Hypatia was a pagan female philosopher (and sorceress, it sounds like) from Alexandria, Egypt, who was allegedly killed by a Christian mob. So, it’s supposed to be a textbook example of Christianity versus you-name-it: Science, Philosophy, Intellectual Freedom, Feminism, Paganism, etc.

The truth is murkier than that, as this series at the TOF Spot shows. From all the propaganda, you would think Christians celebrated a feast day of the Lynching of Hypatia. Funny, I never heard of her growing up. But I did hear a lot about St. Catherine of Alexandria, the Christian female philosopher from Alexandria who was martyred by the pagans. She’s the patron saint of philosophers. Did I mention she was a woman? And an intellectual? And martyred by pagans?

So, which is more indicative of the Church’s position? A brief episode in the saga of Alexandrian street violence, an episode that happened to involve Christians? Or 1600+ years of public veneration?


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