Friday, July 20, 2012

St. Margaret of Antioch, Patron of Pregnant Women

The saint of the day for July 20 is St. Margaret of Antioch (275-290), martyr.

Margaret of Antioch was a Christian virgin whose tortures and martyrdom became famous in early books of Acts. Her mother died when she was an infant and her father was a pagan priest. She was converted by her nursemaid, who adopted her. At the age of fifteen, she was noticed by the local prefect who was attracted by her beauty and wanted to marry her, but she spurned him and vowed to keep her virginity for Christ. He turned her in to the Roman authorities to be persecuted. In prison she was swallowed by Satan in the form of a dragon, but the cross she was carrying irritated his throat, and he spit her out unharmed.

Her persecutors tried to kill her by fire and then by drowning, but each time, she survived, converting the growing crowd of onlookers. Finally, she was beheaded, along with her many converts, by Emperor Diocletian.

At the time of her death, she prayed that her persecutors would be pardoned and also that women in childbirth would call upon her for a safe delivery. She is the patron saint of pregnant women, nurses, peasants, and sterility. She also intercedes for those who call on her from their deathbed and is the patron saint of the terminally ill.

Margaret was one of the saints who spoke to St. Joan of Arc, and she is included in a group of saints known as the Fourteen Holy Helpers, who are venerated for their special ability to intercede for people. St. Margaret's feast day is July 20 in the West and July 13 in the East.

Prayer  For Pregnancy

O Loving Lord, 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. Amen.


JAFHR said...

For some reason Margaret is particularly venerated in Southern France, where the inhabitants claim she lived.

Trisha Niermeyer Potter said...

I'm really glad you posted this. I know some women facing difficult pregnancies as well of some who are unable to conceive, and this saint's example and the prayer are certainly cause for hope.