Blessed Margaret of Castello
Born in Massa Trabaria Italy in 1287 to a proud and well off set of parents; she was, from birth, ugly, a dwarf, blind, hunch backed and had one leg 1 ½” shorter than the other which resulted in a lifelong limp. Her parents were aghast and tried to hide her existence. As her father, Parisio, was the Captain of the People, a powerful office, and a rich man they were success full in hiding her for 6 years. After a near discovery by a visiting dignitary, her parents walled her up in a cell attached to a chapel in the woods and left her there for 16 years.
During her 1st six years of life, she had been tutored by the local parish priest, who discovered an extremely intelligent mind and someone with a very well developed faith. Upon imprisonment (at age 6), she decided that her troubles were nothing compared with what Christ had suffered. She also knew that this life was only a preparation for the next and the closer she could get to Jesus the better her eternal life would be. She was greatly hurt by her parent’s rejection and complete absence of love, but she did get to attend Mass every day, through a slot in the wall of the church, receive communion, the sacrament of reconciliation and she tied her sufferings to those of Christ.
When she was 20, Massa Trabaria was invaded, her father, the Captain of the People, organized the defenses and fought the battles. He feared her discovery by the invading troops and had her transported to a dungeon in one of his residences. The war went well for Parisio, and the state was spared. Thereafter, news of miracles at the tomb of Fra Giacomo in the neighboring city of Castello reached Parisio and his wife. They determined to bring Margaret to Fra Giacomo’s tomb, under cover of secrecy, to see if their daughter would be cured. After a long and arduous journey, the group went to the tomb at the church 1st thing in the morning and told Margaret to pray for a healing. She prayed all morning. As noon approached and no healing was forthcoming, the parents snuck out of town and abandoned their crippled, blind daughter in Castello to fend for herself. She never heard from her parents again.
Margaret had a pleasant bearing, counted her many trials and sufferings as nothing and was always helping others. She was soon taken in by the poor of the city. Over time people of all ranks noticed her humble ways and her focus on other people’s problems. They also noticed that where ever she stayed, the spiritual and material health of the family greatly improved. Soon many were singing her praises while others were incredulous and thought her a fake. Eventually she was asked to join a convent and was overjoyed to have a home and people who loved her. However, she took the Rule seriously, worked hard and she never complained. The sisters at this convent had grown very lax and had many excuses for not following the Rule. They became irritated at Margaret for being holy and expelled her, then set about debasing her reputation. Again homeless and unloved, she bore it all and figured Jesus’ friends abandoned him as well, so why should she complain?
Margaret had, from her youth, a well-developed sense of what this Temporal Life is all about. As a 6 year old child, she had already reached a level of understanding that most people don’t have until they are on their death beds, if ever. There is much more to the life of Blessed Margaret. She is well worth studying and imitating. Praise be to God for our Saints and Blesseds.
For more on the story of Blessed Margaret of Castello seethe book “Blessed Margaret of Castello” by Father William R. Bonniwell O.P. TAN Publishers ISBN 0-89555-213-2