I'm just wondering, with saints and martyrs who were from the early Church, about whom little is known for sure, is it reasonable to suppose that at least some of the stories about them are true? For instance, I've been reading about St. Catherine of Alexandria. Her story speaks to me very deeply somehow - she was a young woman, a student of philosophy who challenged the Roman emperor and was tortured and beheaded after converting a number of people. There are legends about her, about angels whisking her body away, and so forth, but is the core part of the story at least likely to be true? Some of the articles I've read make it sound like the whole thing was just made up and we don't know anything except that maybe she existed. :shrug: Is it foolish to think that the kernel of the story of her life is true?
And I don't mean to limit it to St. Catherine, there are other so-called "apocryphal" saints like St. Philomena, St. Margaret of Antioch, St. George, etc. Some of them were really popular in the Middle Ages and considered to be extremely helpful. Also some of them appeared to other canonized saints, such as St. Joan of Arc. So, how much can we reasonably believe about them?
Also I would love to hear about any stories you all have of the intercession of some of these older saints. :)
Look at the Catholic Encyclopedia when forming judgments about these matters. They probably have articles about all these saints.
Here's the article about Saint Catherine of Alexandria. It argues that a lot of the details of her story have been invented, but her existence and the basic facts of the narrative are very likely true.