Margaret is venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic, Western Rite Orthodox, Anglican, Eastern-Rite Orthodox, and Coptic Churches. That’s pretty incredible! It’s not terribly often that most of us agree on something. I love these saints that are almost universally celebrated whether Catholic or Orthodox or Coptic or otherwise. The saints are for all, Christ is for all, and these specific saints really help witness to that. Margaret, as is of course the case, is also pretty badass.
According to legend, Margaret (also known as Marina) was a native of Antioch and the daughter of a pagan priest named Aedesius. Her mother died soon after she was born, so Margaret was nursed by a Christian woman. As she grew, Margaret embraced Christianity and became a consecrated virgin. This extremely upset her father and he disowned her. Her nurse adopted her and they lived in the country (in modern-day Turkey), where she tended sheep.
Olybrius, Governor of the Roman Diocese of the East, asked to marry her, but demanded that she renounce the Faith. Margaret refused, so Olybrius outed her as a Christian. She was then cruelly tortured, during which various miraculous incidents occurred. One of these involved being swallowed by Satan in the shape of a dragon. Margaret escaped alive because the cross she carried irritated the dragon’s innards so badly he spit her out. Thus, she is the patroness of childbirth. Attempts were then made to execute her by fire and then by drowning, but she was miraculously saved in both incidences. These events converted thousands of spectators witnessing her ordeal (all of whom were promptly executed). Finally, she was beheaded.
Saint Mary church in Cairo, Egypt holds a relic believed to be Margaret’s right hand. It is displayed to the public and visitors on her feast days, but it is otherwise privately venerated.
Image courtesy of https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:St._Margaret_of_Antioch.jpg