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Margaret of Antioch, Saint

cross popular christianity especially

Devotion to the third-or fourth-century virgin martyr Margaret of Antioch became especially popular in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Her life, first recorded in the early Christian period, was elaborated in the * Golden Legend . She was the daughter of a pagan priest who expelled her from his home when she converted to Christianity. She became a shepherdess and caught the attention but resisted the advances of the prefect, or governor, of Antioch, who ordered her to be tortured and eventually beheaded along with the hundreds of others she had inspired to convert to Christianity. Her fantastic sufferings include attempts to drown and burn her; she was swallowed by a great dragon but emerged unharmed when the *cross she carried grew so large it split the dragon’s belly. She is hence the patron saint of child- Page 164  birth. A popular figure in art especially of the Romanesque and Gothic periods, she is often shown with a dragon (emerging from it or stabbing it with a cross) and wearing a crown of pearls
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