Spirituality for Today – Winter 2019/2020 – Volume 24, Issue 2

Saint for February 2020
St. Margaret of Cortona – February 22

In 1254, at the age of seven, Margaret suffered the death of her mother. Treated harshly for years by her stepmother, Margaret moved in with a young nobleman, and the two teenagers began a love affair that ended tragically nine years later when he was murdered by thieves.

Margaret saw her lover's death as a sign from God. Scared and alone, with a young son born out of wedlock, she turned to the Franciscans for help. Consumed with guilt for her earlier sins, Margaret embarked on a discipline of extreme penitence. She fasted frequently, slept on the ground and begged for forgiveness publicly. The friars tried to moderate her acts of penitence by encouraging her to find work. She took a job as a caregiver for wealthy women but soon quit to help the poor.

For three years, Margaret lived and worked among Cortona's needy, comforting the sick and relying on people's charity, most of which she gave to others. Convinced of her sincerity to help the less fortunate, the friars admitted Margaret to the Third Order of St. Francis, the "Order of Penitents."

Margaret recognized the need for a hospital for the sick poor, and she worked closely with city leaders to establish the Hospital of St. Mary of Mercy. She also organized the confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy; a group of fellow penitents dedicated to serve as nurses and caregivers in the hospital. Among those they cared for was group known as the poverelle, or "the little poor women." Margaret lived and worked in the hospital until failing health forced her to move to the church of St. Basil, where she died a short time later at the age of 50.

O glorious Saint Margaret of Corona,
Present this request to your crucified Lord and ours.
Guide us with the strength of your example,
support us with your constant protection,
be our companion we beg you,
till we reach our Father's house.


From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives