Margaret the Virgin
Saint Margaret the Virgin and the dragon
|Martyr and Virgin|
|Feast||July 20; July 17 in the Eastern Church|
|Patronage||childbirth, pregnant women, dying people, kidney disease, peasants, exiles, falsely accused people; Lowestoft, England; Queens' College, Cambridge; nurses; Sannat and Bormla, Malta|
Margaret the Virgin, also known as Margaret of Antioch (in Pisidia), virgin and martyr, is celebrated as a saint by the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches on July 20 and on July 17 in the Orthodox Church. Her historical existence has been questioned. She was declared apocryphal by Pope Gelasius I in 494, but devotion to her revived in the West with the Crusades. She was reputed to have promised very powerful indulgences to those who wrote or read her life, or invoked her intercessions; these no doubt helped the spread of her cultus.
According to the Golden Legend, she was a native of Antioch and daughter of a pagan priest named Aedesius. Her mother having died soon after her birth, Margaret was nursed by a pious woman five or six leagues from Antioch. Having embraced Christianity and consecrated her virginity to God, she was disowned by her father, adopted by her nurse and lived in the country keeping sheep with her foster mother in what is now modern day Turkey. Olybrius, the Governor of the Roman Diocese of the East, asked to marry her but with the price of her renunciation of Christianity. Upon her refusal, she was cruelly tortured, during which various miraculous incidents occurred. One of these involved being swallowed by Satan in the shape of a dragon, from which she escaped alive when the cross she carried irritated the dragon's innards. The Golden Legend, in an atypical moment of skepticism, describes this last incident as "apocryphal and not to be taken seriously" (trans. Ryan, 1.369). She was put to death in A.D. 304.
The Eastern Orthodox Church knows Margaret as Saint Marina, and celebrates her feast day on July 17. She has been identified with Saint Pelagia. "Marina" being the Latin equivalent of the Greek name "Pelagia" who, according to a legend, was also called Margarita. We possess no historical documents on St. Margaret as distinct from St. Pelagia. The Greek Marina came from Antioch, Pisidia (as opposed to Antioch of Syria), but this distinction was lost in the West.
The cultus of Saint Margaret became very widespread in England, where more than 250 churches are dedicated to her, most famously, St. Margaret's, Westminster, the parish church of the British Houses of Parliament in London. Some consider her a patron saint of pregnancy. In art, she is usually pictured escaping from, or standing above, a dragon.
She is recognized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, being listed as such in the Roman Martyrology for July 20. She was also included from the twelfth to the twentieth century among the saints to be commemorated wherever the Roman Rite was celebrated, but was then removed from that list because of the entirely fabulous character of the stories told of her. Margaret is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, and is one of the saints who spoke to Joan of Arc.
- "Margaret of Antioch" The Oxford Dictionary of Saints. David Hugh Farmer. Oxford University Press 2003. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Accessed 16 June 2007
- MacRory, Joseph. "St. Margaret." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 1 Mar. 2013
- Westminster Abbey. "St. Margaret's, Westminster Parish details". Archived from the original on 2008-03-05. Retrieved 2008-05-03.
- Martyrologium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7)
- See General Roman Calendar as in 1954
- Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 130
- Acta Sanctorum, July, v. 24—45
- Bibliotheca hagiographica. La/ma (Brussels, 1899), n. 5303—53r3
- Frances Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications (London, 1899), i. 131—133 and iii. 19.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Saint Margaret of Antioch|
- Saint Margaret and the Dragon links and pictures (more than 45), from Dragons in Art and on the Web
- Middle English life of St. Margaret of Antioch, edited with notes by Sherry L. Reames