St Margaret of Antioch,

Crossgate, Durham



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St Margaret of Antioch



Who was St Margaret?


Over the porch of the church door is the figure of St Margaret of Antioch, the patron saint of the church. Margaret lived in Antioch (in Syria) in the 3rd–4th Century AD. Born the daughter of a pagan priest, she converted to Christianity (which was a forbidden faith according to the laws of the Roman Empire). For this, she was arrested, imprisoned and eventually put to death. At her execution, Margaret was said to have preached so powerfully that many of those watching became Christians themselves, moved by her words, by her bravery and by her faith.

She is pictured holding a cross lodged in the mouth of a defeated dragon. It is said that Margaret, while in prison, was swallowed by a dragon (the devil in disguise); but that the cross that Margaret held lodged in the dragon’s throat forcing him to spit her out. This tale stands as a powerful metaphor for the Christian belief that Christ, by his cross and resurrection, has triumphed over evil and death.

Margaret is Patron Saint of Childbirth, and is one of the saints known as the 'Fourteen Holy Helpers'. Her Feast Day is 20th July.