restricted access The Cult of St. Margaret of Antioch at Tarrant Crawford: The Saint’s Didactic Body and Its Resonance for Religious Women

The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Tarrant Crawford, features wall paintings (fourteenth century) and a psalter (fifteenth century) narrating the life of St. Margaret of Antioch. The twelfth-century home of anchoresses and, later, a nunnery, Tarrant Crawford is associated with several hagiographical narratives about St. Margaret, all of which were written after and informed by the Fourth Lateran Council (1215). Popular throughout medieval England, St. Margaret’s vita provided poignant examples for religious women living isolated, ascetic lives. Both local narratives (the wall paintings and psalter) use St. Margaret’s body to convey an exemplary model to their audiences. Through the saint’s example, medieval Christians learned to use their own bodies to express piety through self-denial, personal awareness of sin, and the maintenance of virginity.