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MARGARITA-PELAGIUS:  text is taken from Caxton's English version of the Golden Legend (Ellis edition)

Life of S. Pelagienne

Here followeth of S. Margaret, said Pelagien, and first of her name.

This virgin Margaret had twain names; she was called Margaret and Pelagien. Insomuch as she was named Margaret, she is always likened to a flower, for she had in her, flower of her virginity. And in that she was called Pelagien, she might be said of pena, pain, and lego, legis, to gather. For she gathered pain in many manners in the religion where she put herself as a man for to keep to God her vlrginity.

Of S. Margaret, otherwise Pelagien.

Margaret, otherwise called Pelagien was a right noble virgin, right rich and right fair, and was much nobly kept by the diligence of her friends. For she was instructed in good manners, and she was ententive to keep chastity, and honest in such wise that she refused to be seen of all men in any manner. And at the last she was required to marriage of a noble young man, and by the accord of one and other of each other's friends, all things necessary to the wedding were made ready and had with much great glory of riches and delices. And when the day of wedding came, that the younglings and maidens were assembled in right great noblesse tofore the chamber, and the fathers and the mothers made great feast for the marriage with great joy, the virgin was inspired of God that the damage of her virginity was brought by so great harmful enjoying, and stretched her to the earth sore weeping, and began to think in her heart the recompense of her virginity, and the sorrows that follow of marriage, and reputed all the joys of the world as ordure and filth. And that night she kept her from the company of her husband, and at midnight she commended her to God, and cut off her hair, and clad her in the habit of a man, and fled from thence to a monastery of monks, and did do call her brother Pelagien. And there was received of the abbot, and diligently instructed and taught, and she held herself there holily and religiously. And when the prior, which was thereby, of nuns was dead, by consent of the abbot and of the ancient men, she was set to be master of the abbey of nuns, howbeit that she refused it strongly. And as she administered not only their necessaries but also food to the soul continually without blame, the devil had envy of her, and thought he might occupy her good time by some objection of sin. And a virgin which was dwelling without the gates had sinned in lechery by the intimation of the devil, and when her belly arose so that she might not hide it, all the virgins were so afraid and so shamefaced, and also the monks of either monastery, that they wist not what to do, and supposed verily that Pelagien, which was provost, and also familiar with the woman, had done this deed, and so condemned him without judgment. And then he was put out and wist not why, and was closed in a pit within a rock. And then he that was most cruel of all the monks, was ordained for to minister him, which served him with barley bread and water, and that in right little quantity. And when the monks had enclosed him they departed and left Pelagien there alone. And she was not troubled in any manner, but ever thanked God, and comforted herself in her continence by the ensample of holy saints. At the last when she knew that her end approached, she wrote letters unto the abbot and to the monks in this wise. I, of noble lineage, was called Margaret in the world, but for I would eschew the temptations of the world, I called myself Pelagien. I am a man. I have not lived for to deceive, but I have showed that I have the virtue of a man, and have virtue of the sin which was put on me, and I innocent thereof have done the penance, therefore I require you, forasmuch as I am not known for a woman, that the holy sisters may bury me, so that the demonstrance of me dying may be the cleansing of my living, and that the women may know that I am a virgin whom they judged for adulterer. And when they heard hereof the monks and the nuns ran unto the pit in which she was enclosed, and the women then had knowledge that she was a woman, and virgin without touching of man. And then they were penitent, and had great repentance of that which they had done, and buried her in the church among the virgins honourably.

© The segmented texts, annotations and audio files at are copyrighted by Laura Gibbs, 2006. No copyright is claimed for any images.