Today is the feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria, patroness of, among other things, female intellectuals or learned women.
Catherine was a noble maiden of Alexandria, who from her earliest years joined the study of the liberal arts with fervent faith, and in a short while came to such a height of holiness and learning, that when she was eighteen years of age she prevailed over the chiefest wits. When she saw many diversely tormented and haled to death by command of Maximinus, because they professed the Christian religion, she went boldly unto him and rebuked him for his savage cruelty, bringing forward likewise most sage reasons why the faith of Christ should be needful for salvation.
Maximinus marvelled at her wisdom, and bade keep her, while he gathered together the most learned men from all quarters and offered them great rewards if they would confute Catherine and bring her from believing in Christ to worship idols. But the event fell contrariwise, for many of the philosophers who had come to dispute with her were overcome by the force and skill of her reasoning, so that the love of Christ Jesus was kindled in them, and they were content even to die for his sake. Then did Maximinus strive to beguile Catherine with fair words and promises, and when he found it was lost pains, he caused her to be hided, and bruised with lead-laden whips, and so cast into prison, and neither meat nor drink given to her for the space of eleven days.