While the ministry of the Anglican chaplaincy in Menorca is clearly and primarily for the English-speaking community on the island, we live amongst the local people and their customs, and it behoves us, every once in a while, to participate in the life and traditions of the community. The day traditionally designated to celebrate Santa Margarita of Antioch is 20th July. On this day, this year, the people of Santa Margarita entered into the spirit of the Fiesta of Es Castell by processing with our saint from the church of El Roser to the chapel of Santa Margarita, to celebrate with an ecumenical service in English and Catalan (with a little of the chaplain’s elementary Castilian Spanish). Afterwards, the Anglican congregation hosted a lively reception.
The story of our patron saint, believed to be apocryphal by some, can be found on our web page about Santa Margarita. In some versions, she was swallowed and regurgitated by the devil in the form of a dragon: evil cannot stomach good.
The story of Santa Margarita can seem a little far-fetched, especially the part about the dragon. But the story is true, insofar as there is truth in its meaning. So what is its meaning?
- Just as Margarita had a nursemaid who was a faithful Christian who told her stories of Jesus and the martyrs, so we need to tell the stories of our faith, especially to young people.
- Her father did not like Christians, and abandoned his daughter. Jesus had already warned his disciples that they would have difficulty with their families because of their faith. Today we must still remember to be as a family for those who are alone, especially because of their beliefs.
- Just as Margarita placed spiritual love before earthly love, so we need to give precedence to spiritual love so that earthly love may prosper.
- And just as Margarita kept her faith in the face of suffering and martyrdom, and was an encouragement and example to others, so if we keep our faith in the face of suffering, we may be a beacon of hope for others in faith.
It was a joy to take our saint into the streets, to be able to share ecumenical worship with the members of the Roman Catholic congregation, to be able to offer hospitality to others in the community, and to celebrate our patronal feast in the setting of the Fiesta. We hope to do all this again – and more – next year.