St. Margaret of Antioch
Also known as
• 20 July
• 13 July in the Eastern Church
Virgin and martyr whose story is know to us from a collection of legends, but no contemporary history. Her father was a pagan priest in Pisidian Antioch, Asia Minor (modern Turkey). Her mother died when Margaret was an infant, and the girl was raised by a Christian woman. Margaret’s father disowned her, her nurse adopted her, and Margaret converted, consecrating herself and her virginity to God.
One day a Roman prefect saw the beautiful young Margaret as she was tending sheep, and tried to get her into his bed. When she refused, the official denounced her as a outlaw Christian, and she was brought to trial. When she refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods, the authorities tried to burn her, then boil her in a large cauldron; each time her prayers kept her unharmed. She was finally martyred by beheading.
Part of her story involves her meeting the devil in the form of a dragon, being swallowed by the dragon, and then escaping safely when the cross she carried irritated the dragon‘s innards; this accounts for this virgin’s association with pregnancy, labour, and childbirth. She was one of the saints who appeared to Saint Joan of Arc. One of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.
• beheaded, date unknown
• relics claimed by several locations
• against kidney disease
• against loss of milk by nursing mothers
• against sterility
• dying people