St Margaret and the Dragon
by Marge Gower
St. Margaret’s feast day is July 20. A feast day is yearly celebration of a martyr.
Margaret was born in Antioch. Her father, Adesius, was a pagan priest. A pagan is someone who worships more than one God. Margaret’s mother died when Margaret was an infant. From then on, a nurse instructed Margaret in the Christian faith and she became devout. When Margaret’s father learned she was a Christian, he drove her out of the house. She had to earn her living as a shepherdess.
One day, a Roman prefect arrived in Antioch to persecute the Christians, and he imprisoned Margaret. Saint Margaret was a beautiful girl and the soldier fell in love with her. He wanted her to be one of his wives. He questioned her in front of the village, but she would have to give up her faith or be tortured.
She answered the prefect by telling him that she had found true life and happiness with God. He was in her heart and no one could remove Him. Margaret said she adored, glorified, and worshiped Jesus Christ, and would never cease honoring Him. She told the soldier that no torture would be able to remove Jesus from her heart.
The prefect was angry. He had her scourged and suspended her in the air by her hands. People pleaded with the prefect to spare her, so he threw her into the dungeon. According to legend, the devil came to the dungeon and tempted Margaret in the form of a dragon. She made the sign of the cross and he disappeared. Later, the dragon came back and swallowed her whole. She was able to burst out of the belly of the dragon. This legend is what made St. Margaret the Patron Saint of Expectant Mothers.
Eventually, the prefect had St. Margaret beheaded. When the soldiers led St. Margaret to her death, she thanked God that the end of her suffering had come. She also prayed, because of her miraculous release out of the belly of the dragon, that mothers giving birth might pray for her intercession that their child be delivered safely, just as she had been from the dragon.
St. Margaret might be one of your church’s stain glassed windows. She will have a dragon at her feet, with the end of a cross thrust between her teeth. She has a wreath of pearls worn around her neck. This is because the name 'Margaret' means 'pearl.' St. Margaret was truly one of God’s pearls.
Saint Margaret's father was a pagan priest.
Her escape from his false beliefs was depicted
in a story of being swallowed by a dragon representing paganism,
and then escaping from its belly as if being born anew.
Because of this tale,
she has become the patron saint of
pregnancy, labor, and childbirth,
so I ask her to pray for every expectant mother I know,
especially those who are having difficult pregnancies
or who have been unable to conceive.
Touch their wombs, dear Lord,
and give them easy deliveries and healthy children.
Protect the lives of babies who might be aborted.
Saint Margaret, pray for us.