Owner/Innkeepers David Campiche and Laurie Anderson were formerly in the antique business. As they scoured shops and warehouses in England, David was particularly drawn to stained glass that had been salvaged from churches, businesses and homes. They sold many of those pieces, some were put on permanent display at the Shelburne Inn, which they ran for forty years, and some were stacked up carefully in their garage to be made use of when the opportunity presented itself. Just such an opportunity arose when they purchased China Beach Retreat and made an addition to the downstairs suite.
The stained glass window pictured above is signed to indicate it is the creation of one Albert E Lemmon in the year 1907, which happens to be within a year of when the main house at China Beach Retreat was built. At the very bottom it says “Saint Margaret Patroness.” At the very top are the following words:
Jesus With Thy Church AbideBe Her Saviour Lord And GuideArms Of Love Around Her ThrowShield Her Safe From Every Foe
Curiosity guided us to find out more about this Patron Saint of Childbirth. According to an account compiled during the 13th century by Jacobus da Varagine, St. Margaret is said to have been born in Antioch, Asia Minor. She belongs to both east and west Christian heritage. As the story goes, St. Margaret’s father was a pagan priest by the name of Theodosius and she was given to a nurse to be raised and later became a Christian.
When she was just 15 years old, a Roman official named Olybrius decided that she should be his wife and that she must renounce her faith. According to the story, St. Margaret refused to do so and was consequently arrested and thrown into prison where she was tortured. While in prison, she prayed “that the fiend that had fought with her, he would visibly show him unto her.” In answer to her prayer, the Devil appeared to her in the form of a dragon.
In one version of Varagine’s story the dragon managed to swallow St. Margaret. While she was in the belly of the beast, the saint made the sign of the cross, and this caused the dragon’s stomach to burst open. Her connection with childbirth was probably made due to this story of her encounter with the dragon in prison.
Our stained glass forms a window in the Kuan Yin Suite, where St. Margaret offers protection to all who pass by here, casting a small display of color and drama in the room. It is indeed a fearsome dragon!
In the Prado Museum hangs a painting by Titian of St. Margaret and the Dragon. As it is in the public domain, we can show it here: