Turns water into wine, dross into gold and headache pills into e (see: Jesus was way cool). Mythical entity, of course, but based on the idea that everything can be distilled down to its essence and this catalyst can change (or transmute) one form to another.

The religious symbolism, especially the christian notion of transubstantiation, is clear. Nowadays, lead can be turned to gold by particle accelerators (with a lot of energy expenditure) and the chemical industry is full of alchemical catalysts.

See: phytomining