Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Margaret of Antioch

Margaret was born in Pisidian, Antioch, Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) the daughter of a pagan priest. Her mother died while the girl was still an infant so Margaret was raised by her Christian nurse. As she grew older, Margaret made the decision to convert to Christianity and consecrate herself, and her virginity, to God. For these actions her father disowned her and she was officially adopted by her nurse.

While one day tending her flock of sheep, Margaret's beauty attracted the lustful eye of a Roman prefect named Olybius. He attempted, first through flattery and then by threats, to convince Margaret to be either his concubine or his wife. When she steadfastly refused, Olybrius denounced her as a Christian and had her brought to a public trial in Antioch.

Margaret was given a choice: renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to the pagan gods or be killed. Margaret refused to renounce her faith and so was sentenced to be burned to death. However, when her jailers attempted to execute the sentence they found that the flames would not burn her. The executioners then bound her hands and feet and threw her into a cauldron of boiling oil but, at Margaret's prayers, her bonds were broken and she arose unharmed. She was finally martyred by beheading. It is believed that the martyrdom of St. Margaret occured during the persecutions of Diocletian which occured from 303-305 A.D.

A famous legend about St. Margaret tells of the devil appearing before her in the form of a dragon. In this guise he swallowed the saint but expelled her unharmed when a cross which she carried irritated the dragon's innards.

St. Margaret is also well-known for being one of St. Joan of Arc's famous "voices."

St. Margaret is the patroness: against kidney disease; against loss of milk by nursing mothers; against sterility; of childbirth; of dying people; of escape from devils; of exiles; of expectant mothers; of falsely accused people; for safe childbirth; of Lowestoft, Suffolk, England; of martyrs; of Montefiascone, Italy; of nurses; of peasants; of people in exile; of pregnant women; of Queens College Cambridge; of Rixtel, Netherlands; of Sannat, Gozo, Malta; of women; and of women in labour.

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