The Life of St. Margaret

Iconography of St. Margaret

In devotional pictures, the attribute of St. Margaret is the dragon. She is usually trampling him under her feet, holding up the cross in her hand. Sometimes the dragon is 'bound with a cord; or his jaws are distended as if to swallow her; or he is seen rent and burst, and St. Margaret stands upon him unharmed, -as in the old metrical legend in the Auchinleck MSS.:-

Maiden Margrete tho [then] Loked her beside, And seas a loathly dragon -out of an him [corner] glide: His eyen were ful griesly, His mouth opened wide, And Margrete might no where flee, Thera she must abide.
Maiden Margrete Stood still as any stone And that loathly worm To her-ward gan.gone, Took her in his foul mouth, And swallowed her flesh and bone. Anon he brast- hath she none 1. Maiden Margrete Upon the dragon stood; Blyth was her harte, And joyful was her mood.

This is literally the picture which, in several instances, the artists have placed before us (133). As martyr she bears, of right, the palm and the crown; and these, in general, serve to distinguish St. Margaret from St. Martha, who has also the attributes of the dragon and the cross. Here, however, setting the usual attributes aside, the character ought to be so distinctly marked, that there should be no possibility of confounding the beautiful and  deified heroine of a spiritual warfare, with the majestic maturity and staid simplicity of Martha. In some pictures St. Margaret has a garland of pearls round her head, in allusion to her name; and I have seen one picture,and only one, in which she wears a garland of daisies, and carries daisies in her lap and in her hand.

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