Book Series Arizona Studies in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, vol. 31

The Company She Keeps

The Medieval Swedish Cult of St. Katherine of Alexandria and Its Transformations

Tracey Sands

  • Pages: 276 p.
  • Size:175 x 255 mm
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2010

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-53378-0
  • Hardback
  • Available

This volume explores the reasons for the popularity of St. Katherine of Alexandria in Sweden, a nation whose population had little in common with the saint and her attributes.


"[...] this invaluable resource, which must now be the starting-point for any future study of the cult of St. Katherine of Alexandria in medieval Sweden."    (John Shafer, in Journal of Folklore Research, June 2, 2011, URL


This study examines the cult of St. Katherine of Alexandria - one of the most widely venerated saints of the medieval Christian world - in what was in many ways a far-flung and remote corner of Christendom. A number of recent studies have established that this saint appealed to a wide range of different groups across Europe, and her legend and cult were capable of generating and fulfilling many different meanings, both for individuals and for organizations. The saint's great popularity in much of Europe is easily understandable, but her popularity in Sweden raises a number of interesting questions that have not previously been explored in such a sustained and focused manner. How did this Mediterranean saint - a Greek-speaking princess or queen of Alexandria - come to be one of the most beloved saints in a cold and remote northern region? How did a figure renowned for her learning become an intercessor for people whose access to the written word was limited at best? What possible functions could this cult fulfill for the Swedes? In confronting questions such as these, this study provides a fascinating insight into Christianity in medieval Sweden.