|Ana Rodriguez JMJ 10-17-07
Blessed St. Margaret of Castello
Margaret’s parents were of high Italian nobility. Her father Parisio was a fearless soldier, the captain of the people in Italy. As a reward for such bravery in capturing the mountaintop castle of Metola, he was given the castle and its land, bringing with him his new bride Emilia. They enjoyed the high position and all its glory and soon wanted a child. With being such a beautiful and noble couple, naturally they expected a beautiful child to show to their friends and family.
Blessed Margaret was born the year of 1287 at Meldola, Vado, Italy.
She was blind and lame, a hunchback dwarf. With her parents being such an important
Couple, they couldn’t be seen with this creature. They couldn’t take the risk of her being unwanted by the people and themselves being disliked, so they gave her to a servant to look after her and take care of her. “What is the child’s name?” asked the servant, “It has no name” came the reply. The servant looked at her deformity, one leg shorter than the other and whispered to her, “How about Margaret?”
The servant was a devout Christian and taught Margaret about Christ and the faith. Margaret soon began to live praying. She would struggle to walk on her lame feet into the chapel. One day when she went into the chapel to pray, another person spied on her and found out this hunchback, lame dwarf was the daughter of the most important and beloved couple in the area. Parisio finding out about what had happened couldn’t have anyone else discovering his daughter. He had a cell built to hide her. He had it built next to the church because she liked to pray. He had a window opening to the chapel so she could hear mass. Another window was put in for food and drink. Once the cell was finished being built, Margaret at the age of six, was forced in there. It was dark and a cold and it was to be her home for remaining years of her life.
The chaplain of the church often spoke with St. Margaret. He found she was very knowledgeable and was just hungry for more. So the chaplain taught her and Margaret’s brilliant mind grew. She so wanted to please God that even at the age of seven, Margaret began to fast just as the monks did from mid-September to Easter. For the rest of the year she fasted four days a week, on Fridays she only took a little bit of bread and water.
When Margaret was nineteen years old, the territory of her father was invaded. Her parents didn’t know whether or take her along with them or leave her behind for possible rape and murder. Emilia chose for a Christian resolution and her and her attendant took Margaret with them to the safety of Mercatello. Margaret was soon
taken and hidden in an underground vault, fed and forgotten.
A year after, a group of five pilgrims came and told Emilia about the cures that had been discovered and taking place in Castello at the tomb of a Fransiscan third-order member, Fra Giocomo. As soon as Parisio knew there was peace, he and Emilia took Margaret to the tomb and surrendered her to the sick and crippled hoping the ‘doctors’ would pick her and help her. Margaret prayed and prayed for a cure but no help came. Parisio showed Emilia all the sick and crippled and told her it was helpless. Emilia agreed and they rode off to Metola, leaving Margaret behind with the others. Margaret realized they had left and found her to the inn they were staying at and learned they had gone home without her. She could have been angry and unforgiving to her parents but instead, was the exact opposite. She knew God had a plan for her and chose to live her life according to it.
She was always given food and shelter and now had to find her way through dark, strange and unfamiliar streets with strange and unfamiliar people and make her living by begging. Two fellow beggars befriended her and introduced her to nice families who often had pity and took in the homeless for a while. As people came to find out about Margaret’s past, and saw that she never said anything against her parents but said how good they were for feeding her and letting her hear mass as she wished, took her in and welcomed her.
Soon enough a few nuns of St. Margaret’s Monastery invited her to live with them. She helped with the meals, clean and do numerous chores dispite her disabilities.
When the monastery foundress passed away, the nuns were more laid back and reluctant about the work that needed to be done. Margaret, however, followed the strict orders of the foundress even after she died. The nuns grew suspicious of Margaret and told her to leave the monastery. The townspeople hearing this became unwelcoming and untrusting towards Margaret. But when they heard that she only spoke good things of the nuns, and how they took her in and took care of her. People started welcoming her again after they realized how silly they were being because they knew she would never speak against someone, that no foul word would slip from her tongue. She accepted to live with the families but chose sleeping in the smaller attics rather than the large ones that had been offered by the wealthy families.
She continued praying frequently and doing her penance until the day of her death in April 13, 1320 at the age of thirty-three. Margaret’s body was supposed to be buried without a coffin, which was the Dominican costume during that time. But the cure of a crippled child at her bier caused the city council to pay for the embalming of her body and to give her a coffin for a burial in one of the Dominican chapels. Margaret’s body is still incorrupt to this day and can be viewed in the chapel of the School for the Blind in Citta di Castello, Italy.
Through Blessed St. Margaret’s life, she recited all 150 psalms daily along with two religious offices. She did meditation to contemplation where she could ‘see’ the Savior. Once while she was praying, she levitated because she was so concentrated on what she was saying. She cared for the sick and dying and whoever was needed. She brought many supposed sinners to Christ and penance through prayers to St. Joseph and her own example.