On April 24, Margaret of Castello (1287-1320) was canonized by Pope Francis after 700 years of being honored unofficially as a saint and miracle worker.
Born blind, disfigured, and short of stature, Margaret was rejected by her prominent parents, who walled her up in a cell adjacent to a chapel on their estate at age six before abandoning her altogether to the streets of Castello at 20. Margaret forgave her parents, became a third order Dominican (equivalent at the time to a Dominican Sister), and devoted her life to serving the poor and imprisoned and catechizing children. (The Life of Blessed Margaret of Castello, Fr. William R. Bonniwell, O.P.)
“Margaret is a perfect example for our times of a Good Samaritan who was herself rejected and wounded and yet chose to cultivate kindness in her encounters with the wounded and forsaken,” writes Fr. Stephen Alcott, O.P., acting director of the St. Margaret of Castello Shrine and Guild at St. Patrick’s parish in Columbus, Ohio.
According to Fr. Stephen, St. Margaret has become important to the pro-life movement as a “‘patroness for the unwanted’, including unborn children in danger of abortion.” The Sisters of Life venerate St. Margaret as “a beautiful icon of the dignity of every human life, no matter what its challenges.” They particularly recommend her intercession to women seeking healing after abortions.
“Saint Margaret’s love and forgiveness toward her parents who rejected and abandoned her can bring a special grace for women struggling to restore a relationship of love with their lost children who are now entrusted to God’s mercy,” writes Fr. Stephen.
Miracles have been attributed to St. Margaret’s intercession since the day of her burial and, with her sainthood, her cult has been opened to the universal Church. “We can hope that little Margaret will become ever more widely known and loved, and that she who was considered one of the least on earth will prove to be one of the greatest of friends in Heaven,” Fr. Stephen says.
To learn more about St. Margaret of Castello, visit littlemargaret.org. Quotations are taken from “The Cult of Saint Margaret of Citta di Castello in the United States” by Fr. Stephen Alcott, O.P., published at op.org.