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Saint Margarita

Saint Margarita, virgin and martyr, is celebrated by the Church of Rome on July 20, but her feast formerly fell on the 13th, and her story is almost identical, even in the proper names, with that of the Greek St. Marina (July 17). She was of Antioch (in the Greek story, Antioch of Pisidia), daughter of a priest Aedesius. She lived in the country with a foster mother, scorned by her father for her Christian faith, and keeping sheep. Olybrius the "praeses Orientis" sees her, and offers her his hand as the price of renunciation of Christianity. Her refusal leads to her being cruelly tortured, and after various miraculous incidents, in which a heavenly dove plays a prominent part, she is put to death.

Women prayed to St. Margarita for easy deliverance. It has been shown by H. Usener (Legenden der heiligen Pelagia, Bonn, 1879) that this legend belongs to a group of various narratives which all have their root in a transition of the Semitic Aphrodite into a Christian penitent or saint. Of these legends that of St. Pelagi is perhaps the most important. Marina is a translation of Pelagia, and both are epithets of Aphrodite as she was worshipped on the coasts of the Levant. Pelagia in the legend has Margarita as her second name. The association of the marine goddess with the pearl is obvious, and the images of Aphrodite were decked with these jewels.

From the 9th edition (1883) of an unnamed encyclopedia.