Monday, April 12, 2010

St. Margaret of Antioch (? to 304)

"Europe is where it's at, Sis," my cousin Freddie told me as I packed my suitcase for a one-week trip to Aruba. I was a newly divorced 26-year-old. I chose the island because it was a honeymoon haven, so I'd be left alone. Boy, was I wrong (that's a story for another time).
"You should come with us this summer," my cousin said and so began the first of three European trips and some wildly exciting times.
Freddie was a student at Syracuse University in New York and that September he and some roommates got a place in the exotic Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy on the Italian Riviera for a semester abroad.
It was a wonderful place to stay and I could use it as my homebase for day or overnight trips to Portofino, Camogli, and Pisa.
Still, with all the excitement of the sunny beaches and million dollar yachts, I was intrigued that Santa Margherita Ligure dedicated a basilica (built in 1658 on the ruins of a 13th century church) to St. Margaret of Antioch (St. Margherita d'Antiochia) who except of her existence and martrydom is considered a mere legend.
She was born in Antioch to a pagan priest. St. Margaret of Antioch became a Christian and worked as a shepherdess. She ignored the advances of Olybrius, a Roman governor, so he had her tortured and imprisoned. While in jail she met up with the devil who was disguised as a dragon and although he swallowed her whole, the crucifix in her hand cut his throat, so he threw her up.
The next attempts to kill her were by burning and drowning. Since it didn't work, the thousands who witnessed it converted to Christianity.
Finally, St. Margaret of Antioch was beheaded. The beautiful saint is most often depicted in art slewing a dragon. Her voice was heard by Joan of Arc and she is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers (known for intercession against diseases).
St. Margaret of Antioch died in 304. She is a patron saint of childbirth, peasants, and against kidney diease. Her feast day is July 20.

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