Priest Stuff

Priest Stuff
Lord, I never wanted to be separated from you.

Blessed Margaret of Castello, patroness of the unwanted and the Pro-Life Movement

The Birth of a Pearl

The year was 1287. Nobles and beggars alike were patiently waiting for the heir of the wealthy Lord of Metola whose wife was in labor pains. All were in joyous anticipation. It would had been a great feast for all...a jubilee! But the silence persisted. The bells never rang... 

The long-awaited first-born was not a boy. It was not only a disappointment to Lord Parisio and Lady Emilia but a sheer horror to find a deformed baby as their child. Instead of jeopardizing the family’s honor, they concocted the news that the child was too weak to survive. 

However, the grace of God moved Lady Emilia to allow the child to receive the sacrament of Baptism. It was arranged that a servant woman took the child and had her baptized and named her Margarita, which means "pearl." The sweetness of her name seems contrary to her hideous physique. She was deformed and twisted; blind; hunchback; crippled; her stature is comparable to a dwarf; with a considerable leg length discrepancy that made her limp; and it seems that her least disability was her ugliness. 
Locking the Secret 

Margaret’s existence was the family’s deepest secret. She was kept in a private part of the castle until she accidentally made her presence known to a guest. This prompted her father to lock her inside a stone prison cell attached to a parish church faraway from the castle. She was only 6 y/o when she was imprisoned. Only a small opening was provided for food and other needs while another one for the Holy Eucharist. 
The pastor became her very close friend. He tried to find time to educate her. He was amazed at her docility and the depth of her spiritual wisdom. Although she suffered terribly in that prison, she endured it for 14 years. She told the priest that like her: "Jesus was rejected even by His own people, and God is letting [her] be treated the same so that [she] can follow our dear Lord more closely.

Abandoned Miracle

At age 20, Margaret made a pilgrimage with her parents to a Franciscan shrine in Citta di Castello where they hoped for a miraculous "cure" to her deformities. They knew how prayerful Margaret was. Her father told her to pray hard ... and indeed, she did. She prayed from morning ‘til nightfall. She did not ask for the “cure” but rather for the will of the Lord to prevail.  Lord Parisio soon realized that no miracle had occurred; so they silently abandoned Margaret in that strange city without knowing that   Margaret's prayer intention was fulfilled. 

Extraordinary Virtues

Margaret did not harbor any ill feelings towards her parents. In fact, she loved them dearly despite of what they've done. She was at the mercy of the passers-by, the poorest of the poor, but her faith and courage inspired others. She was extraordinarily serene, cheerful and courageous. She never became bitter, never complained, never reproached others nor lost heart.

Too holy for Religious Life?

The cloistered nuns in Castello invited her to join their community when they heard about her holiness. The bishop sanctioned her reception. It must have been 'heaven' for her. She believed that all women who entered religious life are called to be saints. She kept the rule in her heart but a spirit of laxity had entered the convent. 
The nuns were annoyed that Margaret was faithful to the rule. It was explained to her that the ‘times were different’ from the time of their saintly founder. Her Novice Mis­tress even explained that ‘charity was more important.’ She found it difficult to understand why it was not possible to be charitable and at the same time observe the Rule. She told this to her confessor. She was kicked out of the convent because she was a good nun. How ironic!

The town were shocked that she was kicked out. False rumors circulated and many speculated that she was not really holy. But no bitter words against the convent was voiced out by Margaret, while the nuns did the contrary.
A Dominican Mantellate

Margaret attended daily Mass at the Church where the Dominican Fathers were in charge. Eventually, she felt the call of God to become a member of the Dominican Third Order of Castello popularly called “mantellatas” (because of their black cape). She lived an exemplary life of prayer, penance, and charity. 

She had inspired several families who offered to have her stay with them. She was very sympathetic and understanding towards others and visited prisoners, helped the sick and comforted the dying. Many cures have been attributed to her intercession. She prayed intently that every time she prayed, she levitated.
She once stayed with the rich Venturino family. One time when the family was away, a raging fire started consuming the palace. The fire was getting completely out of control and the family was very worried because they remembered that Margaret had not yet left for her charitable rounds, and was still in her room. The Lady Venturino cried aloud her name while she cannot allow anyone to enter the burn­ing palace. Margaret called down to tell her not to be afraid, to trust in God, and she threw her Mantellate cloak into the flames. As she did so, the raging fire was instantly extinguished.
Miracle at her funeral
Many miracles occurred dur­ing Margaret’s lifetime, but hun­dreds more since her death. Her soul was so perfect as compare to her imperfect body. She died on April 13, 1320 at age 33, the same age our Lord Jesus gave up His life for us.
When she died the town people thronged to her funeral and demanded that the saint be buried in a tomb inside the church. The priest protested, but when another miracle happened at the funeral, the people had their way.
The par­ents carried their daughter to reach the pallet where the body of Margaret laid. The child was not only a mute, but was crippled since birth because of a severe curvature of the spine. She had never been able to walk and talk. They placed the little one on the ground next to Margaret’s body. All joined the tearfully beseeching parents in their appeal for a cure. The crowd thought they were witnessing an optical illusion — but no, Margaret’s left arm rose and reached over to touch the little cripple beside her. As it did, the little girl immediately stood up and called out in a loud voice, “I have been cured through Mar­garet.” 

EPILOGUE
If Margaret's parents had lived in a modern society as today and the doctors had been able to detect with accuracy her condition, they would had probably resorted to abortion. We had a long list of her negative physical attributes but above and beyond this were her extraordinary virtues of fortitude, wisdom, faith, docility, serenity and cheerfulness.
She had all the reasons in the world to become a 'bitter' person but she accepted all these difficulties to become a better person. She wholeheartedly accepted all trials in order to be closer to God. 
Bl.Margaret in Sto. Domingo Church
She experienced a cycle of rejection and acceptance yet she knew in her heart that it entails total submission of oneself to God's will to become what all of us are called to...to be saints. Oftentimes, she said "If only you knew what's inside my heart". The examination of her body after her death scientifically discovered what she really meant. They found out that her heart actually contained three pearls! Her very name Margarita (pearl) prove to be the content of her heart literally and who really she was figuratively: a white and shiny gem that has been a metaphor for someone very rare, fine, admirable, and valuable.
Bl.Margaret in Manaoag, Pangasinan

Blessed Margaret has been a part of my journey as a Dominican. It all started when I took the entrance examination for the Order of Preachers in May of 1999. It was that fateful afternoon that I went first to Santo Domingo Church to pray before proceeding for the exam. 


On the left side altar, I saw the image of Our Lady of La Naval and asked for her intercession. On the right side altar, I saw the image of St. Martin de Porres and I never knew that he is a Dominican saint. At the main altar, I saw the mosaic of Our Holy Father St. Dominic and my prayer was “St. Dominic, I do not know who you are. Let me know you more.” In time, I knew him not only through his biographies but also by living his charism. I was about to leave the church through its main door when my left side vision glanced at an image of a saint in an inconspicuous corner of the church. I approached her and I felt pity for this saint who is crippled and blind. I asked for her intercession for my vocation.
I passed my exams and the rest was history. As time went by, I forgot the thought of that blind and crippled saint until one day, I was in our Pre-Novitiate library in Calamba City when suddenly, a book fell. [It's the one on the left.] I looked at it and learned that she is Blessed Margaret of Castello. I read about her life. 


When we arrived in Manaoag as novices on Palm Sunday 2000, I was surprised to see that there is another image of her in the Church. After professing our simple vows, we transferred to Santo Domingo and coincidentally, they were celebrating her feast day on that day. I knew that she is interceding for me ever since.

Margaret of Castello was beatified on Oct. 19, 1609. She is an inspiration to those who are discouraged and tempted to self-pity. She is the patroness of the abandoned, the unwanted and the Pro-Life Movement. She is my patroness.

Feb 6, 2011
Pro-life Sunday
Rome, Italy





Source: 
The Life of Blessed Margaret of Castello by Rev. Fr. William Bonniwell, O.P.

Photo credits: 
Fr. Bill Kuchinsky  

Little Margaret Movie
Blessed Margaret of Castello Guild and Shrine
St. Patrick Catholic Church
Columbus, OH

2 comments:

  1. I, too, am celebrating the life of Bl. Margaret of Castello, and have a post in her honor. And I thank you for your post.

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  2. When i was working in Manila and lived that time near Sto.Domingo Church, I always make sure to drop by the Church and make my Novena to Blessed Margaret of Castello. I admired her the time i first saw her! It's just like an instant devotion. I made my Novena to her every Wednesday but everyday i always go inside the Church and prayed. Since then, everything went so well in my life, although there's hardship but i made it! I believed that those wishes i made in my Novena helped me to achieved it. I'm currently living now in the U.S, with my very loving husband! Last year 2011, I came home for vacation and i visited her in Sto.Domingo Church, it's such a great feeling after a long time(6 years) and can able to hold her and say my prayers and my thank you for guiding me all the way since i met her in that Church! She is a truly Blesed Margaret of Castello! Thanks for this wonderful post. God bless.

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