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July 10

St Margaret of Antioch by Peter Candid - July 20

Saint Margaret of Antioch
Virgin, Martyr
(Late 3rd Late Century – Around 304)

“Thou hast power over my flesh, but Christ reserveth my soul.”

Saint Margaret of Antioch

Her Early Years

Margaret (also known as Marina) was born in the late third century in Antioch of Pisidia in southern Asia Minor (modern Turkey). Details of Margaret’s life story seem to be primarily known through a collection of legends rather than actual historical facts. Tragically, Margaret’s mother passed away while she was still an infant. Her father, a pagan priest named Theodosius, had her placed in the care of a nursemaid in the country about five or six leagues (15 to 18 miles) from Antioch.

So, Margaret was brought up by her nursemaid, Theotimus, a devout woman, from whom she learned Christianity. Her foster mother, Theotimus, made it her duty to baptize Margaret and give her a Christian education. Later, having embraced Christianity and having consecrated her virginity to God, Margaret was disowned by her father and thrown out of his house. Then, Theotimus adopted her. Theodosius thought Theotimus, being poor, would soon be tired of maintaining and taking care of Margaret. Theotimus’ only wealth consisted of a few sheep. So, Margaret became a shepherdess to help out.

Marriage Request by Olybrius

One day, Margaret was shepherding Theotimus’ flock of sheep. Then, Olybrius, a prefect of Asia, on his way to Antioch to persecute the Christians, passed by. The lecherous and lustful Olybius was infatuated and attracted by Margaret’s great beauty. He planned to marry Margaret if she was free or make her his concubine if she was a slave.

Olybrius sent a messenger to ask Margaret to marry him, but she replied that she cannot marry him because she is the spouse of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Angered by her response, Olybrius had Margaret brought to him by force. Margaret was brought to public trial at Antioch. He ordered her to renounce her Christian faith and return to pagan ways. Margaret told him that she would never give up her belief of Jesus Christ, a God that was crucified but rose on the third day. Her response just angered Olybrius more.

Her Legend and Martyrdom

So, Olybrius ordered Margaret to be scourged, placed on the rack, and torn with iron combs. Her tormentors then attempted to burn her, but the flames, we are told in her Acts, left her unhurt. Then, they bound her hands and foots and threw her into a cauldron of boiling water. But after Margaret’s prayer, her bonds were broken and she stood up uninjured.

After these tortures, Margaret was thrown into prison. After all the pain she suffered, she still thanked God for the victory she had won, and prayed he would help her fight the other battles that were sure to come.

The apocryphal legend states that Satan appeared in the form of a terrifying dragon and attempted to swallow her. Margaret made the sign of the cross and the cross she was carrying grew enormously irritating the dragon‘s innards and causing the beast to burst open. It is probably this part of the legend that has caused Margaret to be widely worshipped for many centuries as a special patron of expectant pregnant mothers giving childbirth in labor.

Finally, Margaret was beheaded, along with her many converts, by Emperor Diocletian. Her Acts place her death in the persecution of Diocletian around 304, but in fact, even the century to which she belonged is uncertain. She was buried at Antioch, but her relics were taken later to Italy where they were divided between shrines in Montefiascone, Italy and other locations in Italy.

At her death, Margaret prayed that women in childbirth would, upon calling on her, be safely delivered of their child as she had been delivered from the belly of the dragon. She is also known as the patron saint of women, nurses, and peasants. She also intercedes for those who call on her from their deathbed.

In art, Margaret is often represented as a shepherdess, or pictured escaping from, or standing above, a dragon. She became one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, a group of saints venerated together for their special patronage. Saint Margaret was also among the saints who appeared to Saint Joan of Arc.

Born :                   Late 3rd Century in Antioch, Asia Minor (modern Turkey)

Died:                    Around 304 in an unknown location

Beatified:             Pre-Congregation

Canonized:          Pre-Congregation

Feast Day:           July 20

Patron Saint:      Against Kidney Disease; Against Loss Of Milk By Nursing Mothers; Against Sterility; Castelluccio Superiore, Italy; Childbirth; Dying People; Escape From Devils; Exiles; Expectant Mothers; Falsely Accused People; For Safe Childbirth; Lowestoft, Suffolk, England; Martyrs; Montefiascone; Italy; Nurses; Peasants; People In Exile; Pregnant Women; Queens College, Cambridge, England; Rixtel, Netherlands; Sannat, Gozo, Malta; Unmarried Girls and Young Women; Villamagna, Italy; Virgins; Women in Labor

Source:

Reflection 

Saint Margaret of Antioch’s dedication to virginity and purity, even in the midst of threats of torture and persecution, show her unwavering courage and faithfulness to Christ. Despite being pressured to marry, she chose to consecrate herself entirely to Christ. Her example challenges us to embrace purity of heart and body in our own lives, prioritizing our relationship with God above all else.

Whether you are single or married, in your actions and words, how can you prioritize today your relationship with Christ above all else?

Prayers

Saint Margaret of Antioch,

You, as a young virgin and defender of the Christian faith, demonstrated courage and steadfastness in the face of severe adversity resulting in your martyrdom.

May pray for your intercession to have the strength to overcome adversity and remain faithful to Christ in all circumstances.

May we embrace purity of heart and mind and consecrate ourselves entirely to God’s will.

Help us to trust in God’s providence and to seek His guidance and protection in times of trouble and temptation.

Saint Margaret of Antioch, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – This patron saint of pregnancy is too hardcore for words

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 20 July – St Margaret of Antioch (3rd century) Martyr

Angelus – Saint of the day: Margaret of Antioch

Bartleby – Rev. Alban Butler. Volume VII: July. The Lives of the Saints. July 20 St. Margaret, Virgin and Martyr

Catholic Exchange – Saint Margaret of Antioch

Catholic Fire – St. Margaret of Antioch, Patron of Pregnant Women

Catholic News Agency – St. Margaret of Antioch Feast day: Jul 20

Catholic Online – St. Margaret of Antioch

CatholicSaints.Info – Saints of the Day – Margaret (Marina) of Antioch (of the Latins) – by Katherine I Rabenstein

CatholicSaints.Info – Golden Legend – Life of Saint Margaret

Go to Mary – Saint Margaret of Antioch

Melanie Rigney – Margaret of Antioch

New Advent – MacRory, J. (1910). St. Margaret. In The Catholic Encyclopedia.

Orthodox Church in America – Great Martyr Marina (Margaret) of Antioch

Saints, Feast, Family – The Story of Saint Margaret of Antioch

Sanctoral – Saint Margaret of Antioch Virgin and Martyr († 275)

Video Link

Saint of the Day – 20 July – St. Margaret of Antioch – YouTube (Agardeds)