Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Blessed Margaret of Castello



During the thirteenth century, the Catholic Church was not only seen as a religious State but also a political one as it involved itself in the political affairs of different Provinces. At times even taking political office themselves, and also choosing Senators from the various Provinces.

The Catholic Church was also a powerful political power, in those centuries, which gained much of its power and income from pilgrims. The great States in those days were, Venice, Florence, Genoa, Milan, Pisa and Siena, from which most of the trade in Italy took place.

Italy developed its own communal bases by appointing various Mayors some of whom had the endorsement of the reigning Pontiff. This would often lead to complications as families vied with each other for political power, usually at the expense of the poor people in each Province or Commune.

But it was in 1287 that a daughter would be born to a noble family who was named Margaret. This did not bring her parents the expected joy that they had hoped for, and both parents were horrified when their baby was found to be deformed.

Poor Margaret was born in an Era when any deformity was seen as a punishment from God, as superstitions were given priority over fact. Margaret’s parents were horrified to behold their deformed baby and even more so in that they lived within the Papal States.

Due to the parent’s ignorance, they decided to imprison Margaret in the hope that her condition would improve over time. But Margaret was born, with many disabilities, she was blind, hunchbacked and lame, there would be no cure for her. And so her parents when Margaret was about 10 years old took her to a Cathedral in hopes of a cure but none would be forthcoming for poor Margaret. This led to the parents disowning their own daughter as they abandoned her to whatever fate had in store for their neglected daughter.

So began Margaret’s own journey as many villagers took pity on this poor child and she found shelter in various homes at different times. And though Margaret would suffer much she never allowed her abandonment by her parents to embitter her. And the families that sheltered her often spoke of her joy of spirit and loving personality.

And though some families found her to be a joy, still others who were driven by the superstitions of the time, and were wary if not outright hostile to this poor defenceless young girl. So trouble came to Margaret when she was given shelter by a religious Order who were not always in line with God in the way they conducted themselves. This led the Sisters of that particular Order to have a particular dislike of Margaret’s obvious holiness and her loving nature. So in due course they objected strongly to her presence and once again Margaret became homeless.

And though Margaret suffered all these indignities still her nature remained tranquil and serene as she trusted and loved God, who she knew would never leave her. Soon Margaret would be noticed by a group of women who were lady members of the Dominican Order, soon she was invited to join this group of women in their efforts to help and serve the poor, but not all were happy about this new member.

But Margaret’s holiness was apparent to nearly all who met her and could look beyond her obvious deformities to the beautiful soul within and her loving and generous nature. She would soon be adopted by a wealthy family who allowed her to stay with them in Castello, Margaret no longer had to go from pillar to post as she was soon ensconced with this devout family and taken to their hearts.

Through all this Margaret followed the Rule of her Order and visited the poor, the sick and also prisoners which shocked and horrified many who knew and loved Margaret. But through her own suffering Margaret understood perfectly the feeling that these prisoners were going through in that she too had been abandoned even by her own parents. Her heart was full of compassion for these prisoners who had known much hardship in their lives and been given little love.

This woman would be a beacon of love for many and also an inspiration to those who knew her and also for those who would come to hear of her good and noble deeds. But Margaret served all in a spirit of deep humility and charity, which touched the hearts of most she met during her service to the poor and sick.

But though Margaret served the poor this would take its toll on her own health as she lived to serve others despite her own discomfort.

Margaret died in 1320 at only 33 years of age.

Blessed Margaret of Castello was beatified in 1609 by Pope Paul V.

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

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