St. Margaret of Cortona
Born in 1247 A.D., Saint Margaret was born in Laviano, Italy. She was born to farming parents, and at the tender age of seven years old, she lost her dear mother. Soon after her mother’s death, her father remarried.
Saint Margaret did not see eye to eye with her stepmother, though. At the age of seventeen, she ran away with Arsenio. She stayed with him for a total of ten years in his castle as his mistress and even bore him a son.
One day, he did not return to the castle in which they were staying. After much investigation into his disappearance, it came to light that her beloved was murdered in a forest nearby.
How did this young woman come to her faith after experiencing such heartache? Let’s read on and find out!
Saint Margaret’s Turn to the Church
The loss of her beloved Arsenio shook Saint Margaret to such a point that she took on a life of prayer and penance. Soon after his death,Saint Margaret left the castle with her child and attempted to return home to her father. Outlawed by her stepmother, Saint Margaret and her son took up living with the Franciscan friars in Cortona.
In 1277, Saint Margaret joined the Third Order of St. Francis. Here, she made the choice to live in poverty and begged for only bread and sustenance. She continued with her life of prayer and penance in Cortona.
Later, Saint Margaret established a hospital in Cortona. It was here that she looked after the sick, homeless, and impoverished people of Cortona and its environs. To ensure there were enough nurses for the running of the hospital, Saint Margaret established the congregation of Tertiary Sisters.
Furthermore, another order was established by Saint Margaret that was devoted to Our Lady of Mercy. The members of this order also devoted themselves to supporting the hospital and helping the needy as much as they could.
The Last Years of Saint Margaret
Only on two occasions did Saint Margaret of Cortona involve herself in public affairs. On both occasions, Saint Margaret challenged the Bishop of Arezzo. Why did she do this? This was simply because he lived and engaged in war like a prince. She did not agree with this, and thus she took it upon herself to challenge him.
When he refused to change his ways, Saint Margaret moved in and took up residence in the ruined church of Basil of Caesarea (now called Santa Margherita). Here, she lived her last remaining years. She passed away on February 22, 1297, at the age of 50 years old.
On May 16, 1728, Saint Margaret was canonized by Pope Benedict XIII. She is further honored with a Lesser Feast. This feast takes place on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America on February 22.
Further honoring this, the Church of Santa Margherita in Cortona was rebuilt. Her body now lies in a silver casket under the church, embalmed.
Saint Margaret of Cortona has strong patronage for several things in society. The patronage of Saint Margaret lay against temptations, falsely accused people, homeless people, insanity, sexual temptation, single laywomen, and loss of parents. Furthermore, her patronage also includes people with mental illness, midwives, penitent women, single mothers, people ridiculed for their pity, third children, and reformed prostitutes.
5 Interesting Facts About St. Margaret of Cortona
- The body of Saint Margaret of Cortona was once believed to be
incorrupt. This means that it was believed that her body had the
divine right to avoid the process of decomposition.
- A 1950 biographical film was made about the life of Saint Margaret.
of Cortona. This film was directed and written by Mario Bonnard, with
Maria Frau stars as Margaret.
- While on their stay with the Franciscan friars in Cortona, her son
became a friar.
- Before returning to the home where she grew up, Saint Margaret
returned all the gifts her late beloved had gifted her to his family.
- Sinners were drawn to Saint Margaret for her advice and
Prayer to St. Margaret of Cortona
God our Father, through the intercession of Saint Margaret of Cortona,we renew our resolve to fulfill the obligation of Lenten penance. Be with us as we turn from sin and hear the Good News. This we ask through Christ our Lord. Amen.