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Saint Margaret

St. Margaret of Antioch was martyred for her faith during the emperor Diocletion's persecution of the Christians in the fourth century.

Many legends have grown up around her and today, as then, she is known as the patron saint of childbirth.

According to legend, she was the daughter of a pagan priest at Antioch in Pisidia. Also known as Marina, she was converted to Christianity, whereupon she was driven from home by her father.

She became a shepherdess and when she spurned the advances of Olybrius, the prefect, who was infatuated with her beauty, he charged her with being a Christian. He had her tortured and then imprisoned, and while she was in prison she had an encounter with the devil in the form of a dragon.

According to the legend, he swallowed her, but the cross she carried in her hand so irritated his throat that he was forced to disgorge her - one of the reasons why she is known as the patroness of childbirth.

As a result, St. Margaret's emblem is a cross penetrating the open mouth of a dragon - a symbol of her triumph over Satan and the forces of evil.

St. Margaret is one of the "Fourteen Holy Helpers", a group of fourteen saints to whom devotion was made during the time of the black death in the 14th century. Devotions to this group continued from its origins in Germany and spread throughout Europe.