Today in the Maronite Church we celebrate the feast of another great Marina. A great martyr known in the west as St Margaret of Antioch. She was one of the voices that St Joan of Arc heard speaking to her. She also has a great devotion in the Coptic Church.
She was the daughter of a pagan priest at Antioch. She also lost her mother when she young and was placed in the care of a nurse who was a Christian and who had her baptised. Margaret grew up a Christian. When she returned to her father she refused to take part in the worship of the idols.
Her father tried to change her mind and when he failed to convince her he threw her out of the house. Margaret returned to her nurse and became her servant, doing all kinds of menial work.
The Emperor Diocletian began to persecute the Christians at this time. One day Alybrius, the prefect of the city, saw Margaret, and fell in love with her. He sent a messenger to ask her in marriage. She refused because she had promised to become a spouse of Our Lord Jesus Christ. When the prefect heard this, he gave orders to have the Virgin brought to him by force.
When she appeared before him he thus addressed her. The prefect demanded that she deny Christ. She refused and was tortured and imprisoned.
In prison she saw visions of the arch-enemy of mankind in the shape of a furious dragon, threatening to swallow her. She made the Sign of the Cross, and the monster vanished. Her prison cell became filled with a light, and her wounds were suddenly healed.
The next day Margaret was again brought before the prefect who believed her wounds were healed by the pagan gods. Margaret maintained that she had been healed by the power of Christ alone and repudiated the heathen gods. Alybrius ordered even more torture and on witnessing this young girls conviction in her faith, a great number of spectators were also inspired converted to Christianity.
Finally the prefect ordered Margaret to be beheaded. Her martyrdom occurred about the year 275.
We pray for the intercession of St Margaret that our faith may always be strong.