From the Preface.
…The most celebrated transaction in the life of St. Katherine, and perhaps as impudent a fiction as any in the whole legendary mythology, is the story of her marriage with the divine Saviour. We are told that the Virgin Mary appeared to an aged anchorite named Adrian, and commanded him to go to Alexandria and invite the Princess Katherine, in her name, to accompany him to his hermitage in the desert, where she would see and be united in marriage to that heavenly King, for love of whom she had refused the love of the numerous earthly kings who had solicited her hand. The venerable messenger obeyed, and, having arrived at the palace, miraculously Obtained access to the princess in her private study, where he told his errand; which she no sooner heard than she joyfully agreed to accompany him to the appointed place. When they reached the desert, and were near the confines of his cell, the hermit could not recognize his humble abode, and began to be in great trouble, thinking he had lost his way; but, when he had uttered a fervent prayer, he looked up, and beheld “the most glorious mynster that ever man saw,’ and heard a marvelous melody of voices of saints and angels. Here they were welcomed by the blessed Virgin, who told Katherine, that, as she had not been baptized, she was not yet fit to come into her Son’s presence. Upon this “ there appeared in chyrche a fonte solemnly arrayed with all that long thereto: and the blessed Virgin called Adrian, and bade him baptize her daughter, and not to change her name, for, said she, Kattryne she shall hyght, and I shall hold her to you myself. And with this Adrian waxed as blind as he had never seen afore; and then he was a sorry man, but nought he dorste saye. Then our Lady unclothed this young Queen Kattryne, and brought her to Adrian, and be baptized her; and our Lady named her Katteryne. And she clothed her again, and by that time had Adrian his syght as well as before. The Virgin then led the joyful maiden into the queyr; and, as they entered in, so great a sweetness come agaynst them that it passyd all herts to thynk it. And with that she beheld the semliest yong kyng stondyng atte the auter, crownyd with a ryall crowne, havyng aboute hym grette moltitude of angelys and saynts.” Then the Virgin, with much reverence, presented Katherine to her blessed Son; and, after suitable discourse, he led her to the altar, and said, “I take you here, Katteryn, to my spouse, behottyng youe trewly never to forsake you whylls youre lyffe lastethe; and after this lyffe I schall bryng youe to an endelesse lyffe, where ye schall dwell with me in blisse withoute ende.” With this he put a ring on her finger, and bade Adrian “ doo on his vestements, and goo to masse, and saye the servyce ouer them, as belongethe to the costome of weddyng.”I When the ceremony was ended, Katherine fell into a swoon; and when she recovered her consciousness, she found herself in the cell of the aged hermit, and the glorious scenes she had passed through would have seemed to her as a dream, if she had not found the ring still on her finger.— This monstrous fable, which is not recorded in the more ancient and genuine lives of the Saint, appears to have been built on the slight foundation of some expressions in the present Legend” similar to those usually applied to nuns when they make their profession, who are said, in a mystical sense, to be espoused to Christ.