1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Margaret, St
MARGARET, ST (Sancta Margarita), virgin and martyr, is celebrated by the Church of Rome on the 20th of July. According to the legend, she was a native of Antioch, daughter of a pagan priest named Aedesius. She was scorned by her father for her Christian faith, and lived in the country with a foster mother keeping sheep. Olybrius, the “praeses orientis,” offered her marriage as the price of her renunciation of Christianity. Her refusal led to her being cruelly tortured, and after various miraculous incidents, she was put to death. Among the Greeks she is known as Marina, and her festival is on the 17th of July. She has been identified with St Pelagia (q.v.)—Marina being the Latin equivalent of Pelagia—who, according to a legend, was also called Margarito. We possess no historical documents on St Margaret as distinct from St Pelagia. An attempt has been made, but without success, to prove that the group of legends with which that of St Margaret is connected is derived from a transformation of the pagan divinity Aphrodite into a Christian saint. The problem of her identity is a purely literary question. The cult of St Margaret was very widespread in England, where more than 250 churches are dedicated to her.
See Acta sanctorum, July, v. 24-45; Bibliotheca hagiographica, Latina (Brussels, 1899), n. 5303–5313; Frances Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications (London, 1899), i. 131–133 and iii. 19. (H. De.)
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