The name is a German and Scandinavian form of Catherine.
It has been one of the most consistently popular female names in Germany for the last 100 years.
She is currently the 11th most popular female name in Austria (2010) and the 51st most popular in Germany, (2011).
In German history, the name was borne by several famous women, one of the most notable being Katharina von Bora (1499-1552) a Catholic nun who left the Catholic Church and became one of the earliest converts to Lutheranism, later becoming the wife of German reformer, Martin Luther. In the American Lutheran Church, she appears in the Calendar of Saints.
Another notable and more contemporary bearer was Katharina Staritz (1903-1953) a German theologian who was one of the first women to be ordained a minister. She is known for her help and aid to many Jews during the Second World War.
The name is also borne by German Olympic Gold Medal Figure Skater, Katarina Witt (b.1965)