ST. MARGARET was the daughter of a pagan priest at Antioch. She lost her mother in infancy and was placed in the care of a nurse in the country, who was a Christian, and whose first care was to have her little charge Baptized and to give the child a Christian education. Margaret grew up a modest, pious virgin, and when she returned to her father he was charmed with the grace and virtue of his daughter. He regretted only one thing; she took no part in the worship of the idols. When she told him the reason he was greatly displeased, for she stated that she was a Christian, and that nothing should separate her from the love of Christ.
Her father tried every means to change her mind, and when all his endeavors failed became enraged and drove her forth from his house. Margaret returned to her nurse and became her servant, doing all kinds of menial work, and at the same time perfecting herself in virtue.
About this time Emperor Diocletian began to persecute the Christians. 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. The pious Virgin was filled with consternation at the proposal and replied to the messenger: “I can not be espoused to your master, because I am the spouse of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I am promised to Him, and to Him I wish to belong.” When the prefect heard this, he became furious with rage, and gave orders to have the Virgin brought to him by force.
When she appeared before him he thus addressed her:
“What is your name and condition?” She replied: “I am called Margaret, and belong to a noble family. I adore Christ and serve Him.” The prefect now advised her to abandon the worship of a crucified God. Margaret asked him, “How do you know that we worship a crucified God?” The prefect replied: “From the writings of the Christians.” Margaret continued: “Why did you not read further on? These would have told you that the Crucified rose on the third day, and that He ascended into Heaven. Is it love of truth to believe in the abasement of Christ and to reject His glorification, when both are related in the selfsame?”
At this reproof the prefect became angry and ordered the tender Virgin to be cruelly scourged, placed on the rack, and torn with iron combs. Then she was cast into prison. There Margaret fervently thanked God for the victory she had achieved and implored His help for the combat yet in store for her. Suddenly there appeared to her the arch-enemy of mankind in the shape of a furious dragon, threatening to swallow her. The brave Virgin feared him not, but made the Sign of the Cross, and the monster vanished. Then her desolate prison cell became suffused with Heavenly light, and her heart was filled with Divine consolation. At the same time her terrible wounds were suddenly healed, and not the least scar was left.
Next day Margaret was again brought before the prefect. Surprised at her complete recovery from the effects of his cruelty, he remarked that no doubt it was due to the power of the pagan gods, and exhorted her to show her gratitude to them by sacrificing to the idols. Margaret maintained that she had been healed by the power of Christ alone and declared that she despised the heathen gods. At this, the rage of Alybrius knew no bounds. He ordered lighted torches to be applied to Margaret’s body, and then had her cast into icy water to intensify her torture. But scarcely had this been done when a violent earthquake occurred. Her bonds were severed and she rose unscathed from the water, without a mark of the burns caused by the flaming torches. On witnessing this miracle, a great number of spectators were converted to the Faith.
Finally the prefect ordered Margaret to be beheaded. Her glorious Martyrdom and death occurred about the year 275.
INTROIT Ps. 119
THE ungodly laid wait for me to destroy me: but I will consider thy testimonies, O Lord: I see that all things come an end: but thy commandment is exceeding broad. Ps. ibid. Blessed are those that are undefiled in the way: and walk in the law of the Lord. v. Glory be… etc
Almighty and everlasting God, who dost choose the weak things of the world to confound those things that are strong: mercifully grant that we who keep the feast of blessed Margaret thy Virgin and Martyr, may feel the succour of her intercession in thy sight. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever.
Collect for the Intercession of the Saints
Defend us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, from all dangers of mind and body: and through the intercession of the blessed and glorious Mary, ever Virgin, mother of God, of St Joseph, of Thy holy apostles, Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, in Thy loving-kindness grant us safety and peace; that, all adversities and errors being overcome, Thy Church may serve Thee in security and freedom. Through our Lord.
Collect for God’s Holy Church
Graciously hear, O Lord, the prayers of Thy Church that, having overcome all adversity and every error, she may serve Thee in security and freedom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever.
EPISTLE Ecclesiasticus 51.1
I will thank thee, O Lord and King, and praise thee, O God my saviour: I do give praise unto thy Name: for thou art my defender and helper, and hast preserved my body from destruction, and from the snare of the slanderous tongue, and from the lips that forge lies, and hast been mine helper against mine adversaries: and hast delivered me according to the multitude of thy mercies and greatness of thy Name, from the teeth of them that were ready to devour me, and out of the hands of such as sought after my life, and from the manifold afflictions which I had; from the choking of fire on every side, and from the midst of the fire which I kindled not; from the depth of the belly of hell, from an unclean tongue, and from lying words. By an accusation to the king from an unrighteous tongue my soul drew near even unto death, my life was near to the hell beneath. They compassed me on every side, and there was no man to help me; I looked for the succour of men, but there was none. Then thought I upon thy mercy, O Lord, and upon thy acts of old, how thou deliverest such as wait for thee, and savest them out of the hands of the enemies, O Lord our God.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Psalm 45
Full of grace are thy lips: because God hath blessed thee for ever. V. Because of the word of truth, of meekness, and righteousness: and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. Alleluia, alleluia. V. St. Matt. 25. The five wise virgins took oil in their vessels with their lamps: and at midnight there was a cry made: Behold the bridegroom cometh: go ye out to meet him, Christ the Lord. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Matthew 13:44-52
The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 44: 3
Grace is poured abroad in thy lips : therefore God hath blessed thee for ever and for ages of ages.
Receive, O Lord, the offerings we bring on the solemn festival of Thy blessed virgin and martyr, Maragret; by whose intercession we hope for deliverance. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever.
Secret for the Intercession of the Saints
Graciously hear us, O God our Saviour, and, by virtue of this Sacrament, defend us from all enemies of soul and body, bestowing upon us Thy grace here and Thy glory hereafter. Through our Lord.
Secret for God’s Holy Church
Protect us, O Lord, who assist at Thy mysteries, that, cleaving to things divine, we may serve Thee both in body and in mind. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever.
PREFACE of the Common
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: through Christ our Lord. Through Whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the Heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say in lowly praise:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Ps. 118: 121
I have done judgment and justice, O Lord, let not the proud calumniate me; I was directed to all Thy commandments: I have hated all wicked ways.
Filled with the Gifts of Thy divine bounty, we beseech Thee, O Lord, our God; that by the intercession of blessed Margaret, Thy Virgin and Martyr, we may partake thereof for evermore. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever.
Postcommunion for the Intercession of the Saints
May the gift of this Divine Sacrament which we have offered, cleanse us and defend us, we beseech Thee, O Lord; and through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of God, of St. Joseph, of Thy holy apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, free us from all iniquity and deliver us from all adversity. Through the same Lord.
Postcommunion for God’s Holy Church
O Lord our God, we pray Thee that Thou suffer not to succumb to human hazards those whom Thou hast been pleased to make sharers of divine mysteries. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, For ever and ever.