St. Marina, while cross-dressing as a monk, is accused of rape

Pocket Bard’s notes: Surprisingly, this is not the only story in the Golden Legend of a woman who cross-dresses as a monk and is accused of rape. St. Theodora has a similar, longer story with the same theme. I’m not sure what this says about medieval culture or Jacobus de Voragine, but I’m sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere.


St. Marina, while cross-dressing as a monk, is accused of rape
The Golden Legend, Volume I, trans. William Granger Ryan, p.325

The virgin Marina was her father’s only child. When he was widowed and entered a monastery, he changed his daughter’s attire and dressed her as a male. He then asked the abbot and the monks to admit his only son, and, when they agreed, Marina was received as a monk and was called Brother Marinus by all. “Marinus” then began to live the religious life and to observe strict obedience. When he was twenty-seven years old and the father felt the approach of death, he called his daughter, encouraged her to remain firm in her resolution, and ordered her never to reveal to anyone that she was a woman.

Marinus often went out with an oxcart to bring back wood to the monastery, and now and then stopped at the house of a man whose daughter conceived a child by a soldier. She was questioned and declared that the monk Marinus had ravished her. When Marinus was asked why he had committed such a shameful crime, he admitted that he had sinned and was banished from the monastery. He stayed outside the gate for three years, living on scraps of bread. When the woman’s son was weaned, he was sent to the abbot and entrusted to Marinus to be brought up, and he stayed with Marinus for two years. Marinus accepted all this with the utmost patience and in all things rendered thanks to God. Finally the monks, moved by his humility and patience, took him back into the monastery and assigned some of the meanest labors to him. He accepted everything cheerfully and did his work with patience and devotion.

At length, having led a life filled with good works, he migrated to the Lord. When it came time to bathe the corpse before burying it in some grubby corner, the monks saw that it was the body of a woman. They were stupefied and frightened, and admitted that they had grossly maltreated this handmaid of God. They therefore gave her honorable burial in the church. As for the woman who had defamed the servant of God, she was seized by a demon, confessed her crime, came to the virgin’s tomb, and was freed of the demon. People came from everywhere to visit the tomb, and many miracles took place there. Saint Marina died on the eighteenth day of June.

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