This account of St. Marina's life is included in Caxton's translation of the Golden Legend, but it is substantially different from the Legend's account. The latter was a severe abridgement of the 6th-century vita that changed "Marinus"’s overnight sojourn from a seaport tavern to the home of "some man" after the saint had been gathering wood in the forest. The version in Caxton adopts that revision but is otherwise mostly an unabridged translation of the original vita, though there are a few changes that smooth out rough edges in the original. For example, it changes "some man" to the more positive "a goodman." And it specifies that the father was a widower when he decided to take Marina with him to the monastery, implying that otherwise she would have been all alone in the world.

This "reader's version" of the Caxton text provides paragraph breaks and explanatory notes.

Marine was a noble virgin and was one only daughter to her father without brother or sister, and after the death of her mother, her father entered into a monastery of religion, and changed the habit of his daughter so that she seemed and was taken for his son and not a woman. Then the father prayed the abbot and his brethren that they would receive his only son, whom at his instance they received for to be a monk and was called of them all brother Marine.

He began to live right religiously, and to be much obedient. When she was twenty-seven years and her father approached towards the death, he called his daughter to him, confirming her in her good purpose and commanding her that in no wise she should show ne nor do be known let it be known that she was a woman, and then her father died.

She went ofttimes to the wood with the cart to fetch home wood, and because it was far from the monastery otherwhile sometimes, occasionally she lodged in a goodman's house whose daughter had conceived a child by a knight. And when it was perceived, she was thereof examined, who had begotten that child, and she said that it was the monk Marine had lain by her and gotten it. And then anon immediately, very soon the father and mother went to the abbey and made a great complaint and a great clamour to the abbot for his monk Marine. Then the abbot, being hereof sore abashed, embarrassed, upset, discomfited sent for Marine and demanded of him why he had done so horrible a sin. And he meekly answered and said: Holy father, I ask of our Lord mercy, for I have sinned. Then the abbot hearing this was much angry for the sorrow and shame, and commanded anon that he should be put out of the house.

And then this Marine full patiently went out of the monastery, and dwelled at the gate three years, and lived straitly in poverty with a morsel of bread a day. And when the child was weaned from the mother's pap, it was sent to the abbot, and he sent it to Marine, and bade him keep such treasure as he had brought forth. And then he took meekly and patiently the child and kept it with him there two years.

All these things he took in great patience, and in all things gave to our Lord thankings; and at the last the brethren had pity on him and considered his humility and patience, and did so much to the abbot that he was taken into the monastery, and all the offices that were most foul were enjoined for him for to do. He took it all gladly, and all things he did patiently and devoutly, and at the last, being full of virtuous life, she died and departed out of this world.

When they should take up the body and wash it for to dispose it to be buried they saw that she was a woman. All they were astonied astounded, astonished and feared, and knowledged acknowledged, confessed that they had trespassed greatly in the servant of God. Then they ran all for to see the sight, and asked forgiveness of their ignorance and trespass. Then bare they the body of her into the church and there honourably they buried it. Then she that infamed had defamed the servant of God was taken and vexed with a devil, and knowledging acknowledging, confessing her sin came to the sepulchre of the blessed virgin, and there was delivered and made all whole. To whose tomb the people over all there about came and assembled, and there our Lord showed many miracles for his blessed virgin Marine. She died the fourteenth kalends of July [June 19].

Golden Legend Table of Contents

Christian Iconography Home Page

St. Marina is traditionally pictured in a monastic habit with a crucifix and sometimes a small boy. (See the description page for this image and the page explaining the iconography of images of this saint.)

This text was taken from the Internet Medieval Source Book. E-text © by Paul Halsall. Annotations, formatting, and added rubrics by Richard Stracke. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the sources. No permission is granted for commercial use.