Old and young, I you pray your foibles for to cease and believe on Jesus Christ, that gave you wit your sins for to atone. Listen, I will tell you words fair and sweet- the life of a maiden that was called Margaret.
Her father was a pagan priest, as I tell you may. In Antioch a wife he chose in that false faith. Feeble was his heart and false was his faith; The ﬁends out of hell, they served him both night and day.
The nurse that this maiden took, she kept her with pleasure. All they her loved, as says the book, in the house that she was in. Soon she knew great wisdom, and sin she dread abhorred; She gave her heart to Jesus Christ and left all her kin.
Then spoke Olibrius. He cursed both sun and moon. For this virgin glorious his wits were nearly gone. “Bring her before me,” he said. ” I will change her mind very soon. I shall her make me to love long before midday.”
“Maid Margaret,” he said, “my sweetheart thou shalt be, and I thee will wed if thou be of free birth. If thou be of riches born, I give thee gold and fee. Thou shalt be my sweetheart so long as it shall be.”
That maid him answered clearly and alone: “I am a Christian woman, baptized in the font. Blessed be my Lord that I believe upon. I will not lose His love for no earthly man.”
“Believest thou,” he said, “on Jesus Christ, that which was done upon the Cross? Longinus pierced His side – the blood ran in streams. The crown was of thorns that on His head stood. If thou considereth that He liveth, I hold thee but mad.”
Then spoke that maid as an angel taught her: “He died on the Cross our souls to amend, And then into hell His holy ghost He sent To take us out of prison to joy without end.”
Then spoke Olibrius. He saw it was no use To argue with that maiden, so steadfastly she stood. He bade men to bind her, both hand and foot, And put her in prison – “that ye may change her mind.”
Maid Margaret all night in prison lay. She came before Olibrius upon the second day. “Maid Margaret,” he said, “trust upon my religion; Jesus that thou believest on, forsake Him now forever.
“All thy counsel,” she said, “it turns not my thought. I commit myself to Jesus Christ, which that has me bought. And all this middle earth, forsooth He made from nothing, And then with His precious blood out of hell us brought.”
Then spoke Olibrius, “Now it shall be seen Who it is that thou believest and why thou art so bold. Hang her up by the hair, for to anger her Lord! Beat her with scourges until ye believe her dead!”
These torturers did as he bade; to her they gun go. With their sharp nails they caused her much woe. Of her fair white ﬂesh they drove ever fro, That the blood from her head ran down to her toe.
Full well saw that Sarysyne that he might not cause her to budge. He called forth Malcus, that was his executioner. “Lad,” he said, “out of the town – or else I shall her bear – And bring her out of life with sword or with spear.”
Jesus with his angels He sent her a fair voice – To maiden Margaret, Christ’s maid of heaven: “Blessed be thou today with all that I can name. Today shalt thou ﬁnd the way into the bliss of heaven.”
Than spoke maid Margaret; her prayers she ceased. “Malcus,” she said, “smite oﬀ my head. Forgiven to thee is that sin.” “That will I not do,” he said, “for all this world to win. Thy Lord has greeted thee, that thou believest in.”
“But if thou do,” she said, “Unless shalt thou never have That joy that is in paradise, that thou after do crave.” Malcus herd these words; his sword then did he draw And smote oﬀ her head with dread and repugnant awe.
Michael and Gabriel and Raphael together, Cherubim with ten thousand that there were, With censers and tapers to heaven they her bore, Full high before Jesus Christ; she is to Him full dear.
Of that sweet maid this is her life, The twentieth day of her in the month of July. Jesus Christ, that was born of the Virgin Mary, For Saint Margaret’s love on us have mercy. Amen.