Margaret of Cortona (1247-1297)
Feast Day: February 22
Canonized: May 16, 1728
Margaret was born in Tuscany to a farming couple. When she was seven, her mother died and her father married a woman who didn’t like her. At 17, Margaret ran away with a lover and lived with him for nine years, bearing him a son. When the man was murdered, she sought to return home with her son, but her family refused to take them in.
She went to the Friars Minor at Cortona and lived the life of a penitent. Naturally beautiful with an outgoing disposition, Margaret struggled with temptations of the flesh. She advanced in the spiritual life with prayer and mortifications. She joined the Third Order of St. Francis and served the sick poor without pay. She later founded a hospital at Cortona and the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy.
Margaret preached publicly against vice and convinced many to return to the sacraments. She was involved in public affairs and twice upbraided the bishop of Arezzo for living like a secular prince instead of a pastor of souls. She is the patron of the falsely accused, homeless, insane, orphaned, mentally ill, single mothers, reformed prostitutes, and stepchildren, among others.
BRIAN FRAGA is a Legatus magazine staff writer.