Margaret of Castello
Memorial: 13 April
Lord Parisio and Lady Emilia and had planned a grand celebration for the birth of their long-awaited first child. But when the baby was born in 1287, in Umbria near Florence, Italy, no bells were rung; no feast was given. Instead a "perfect" child of which they'd dreamed, she was a homely, blind hunchback, with one leg considerably shorter than the other. Her parents could find no room in their hearts for their baby. They were totally shocked. How could this happen to them? Where did this ugly child come from? They decided to hide the child forever and tell no one about her, so they gave the baby to a trusted servant to care for secretly. "What is the child's name?" the servant asked. "It has no name," came the reply. The kindly servant girl took her and had her baptized "Margaret," which means "pearl."
When Margaret was 6, her parents had her shut up in a tiny cell adjacent to the family chapel. She could not get out, but could attend Mass and receive the Sacraments. It was only through the family chaplain that Blessed Margaret came to know God. Here she lived until she was sixteen, never being allowed to come out. Her food and other necessities were passed in to her through a window. Seeking a miracle, her parents took her to a Franciscan Shrine in Castello. When she was not cured, they abandoned her in the streets of the town and left for home, never to see her again. At the mercy of the passers-by, Margaret had to beg her food and eventually sought shelter with some Dominican nuns. Blessed Margaret's faith and courage inspired others in the community to take pity on her and to help her survive. Eventually she became a member of the Dominican Third Order of Castello as a "Mantellata" (a tertiary who wore the religious habit and veil), where she spent the rest of her life in prayer, penance, and charity.
People for whom she cared sometimes recovered miraculously, gaining her a reputation for sanctity. She spent her days in hobbling about the streets to take care of the sick and to visit prisoners. Miracles of body and soul were attributed increasingly to the blind woman's prayers. Once she was visiting a prison in an effort to exorcise the hatred in the heart of one of the prisoners. As she prayed for his change of heart, her body was lifted up from the floor in the presence of all and remained for some time suspended. Eventually, the man broke down and expressed contrition.
She died on April 13, 1320 at the age of 33.
When she died, the townspeople thronged to her funeral and demanded that “the
saint” be buried in a tomb inside the church. The priest protested, but when a
crippled girl was miraculously cured at the funeral, the people had their way.
More than 200 miracles have been credited to her intercession after her death.
Patron: of the unwanted.
Blessed Margaret's story and the story of Saint Maria Goretti are the most moving stories I ever read.
- Foundation Marypages -