A UNIQUE EVENT IN MARGARET RODING AND THE STORY OF THE MARGARET RODING TRIPTYCH
The feast day of St. Margaret of Antioch, after whom both our little Norman church and our village are named, falls on 20th July.
This year on the weekend of the saint’s feast day, a very special event took place in Margaret Roding. The doors of our one thousand year-old church were opened wide, and, inside, the church was decorated with summer flowers and the work of three artists – Susanne Bowler, Fanny Haine and Mia Polley, gathered together under the title ‘Spirit of Place.’
These East Anglian artists between them explored the beauty of walking in the countryside, finding places of unexpected magic and portraying them in paintings, prints and collage. In the woodcut series ‘Song of the Seasons’, Mia captured moments through the natural cycle seen in the village itself.
The event was attended by approximately one hundred visitors of all ages, coming from Lancaster to Southampton, and it was delightful to welcome guests from neighbouring villages as well as Cambridge, Writtle and Chelmsford.
According to legend, Margaret the Virgin was a native of Antioch in Turkey and the daughter of a pagan priest named Aedisius. Shortly after her birth, Margaret’s mother died and she was adopted and brought up by a pious woman, growing up a shepherdess and embracing Christianity. However, her hand was sought by Olybrius, the Roman governor, with the price of the renunciation of her faith. Her refusal resulted in cruel torture and eventually martyrdom in 304AD, Margaret aged just fifteen. Miraculous events were said to have taken place, including her being swallowed up by the Devil in the form of a dragon, which regurgitated her when the cross she wore irritated its innards.
During the crusades, St. Margaret became popular and her patronage was sought for in over two hundred and fifty churches in England, including the parish church of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. Her intercession was sought by pregnant women, women in childbirth, people with a kidney disease, exiles, the falsely accused, and nurses, amongst others.
Mia Polley’s triptych ‘Marguerite of the Rodings’, in woodcuts, was displayed for the first time in the exhibition. Based on the story of St. Margaret’s life, the three panels ‘Sweet Marguerite of the Rodings’, ‘Marguerite Stills the Dragon’ and ‘The Blessing’, can be seen as representing the beauty of the Earth and life, the richness of the imagination and the mystery of the spirit.
This little church emerged from behind the trees and was filled with light and colour for a remarkable weekend. Surrounded by flowers, a fragrant candle was lit for St. Margaret to celebrate her feast day, perhaps for the first time in hundreds of years.
Recorder for Margaret Roding