Farmer‘s daughter. Her mother died when Margaret was seven years old, and her stepmother considered the girl a nuisance. Margaret eloped with a young nobleman from Montepulciano, bore him a son, and lived as his mistress for nine years. In 1274 he was murdered by brigands, and his body dumped in a shallow grave.
Margaret saw the incident as a sign from God. She publicly confessed to the affair, and tried to return to her father‘s house; he would not accept her. She and her son took shelter with the Friars Minor at Cortona. Still young and attractive, Margaret sometimes had trouble resisting temptation, but each incident was followed by periods of deep self-loathing. To make herself unappealing to local young men, she once tried to mutilate herself, but was stopped by a Friar named Giunta.
She earned her keep by tending to sick women. She later began caring for the sick poor, living on alms, asking nothing for her services. She became a Franciscan tertiary in 1277. Margaret developed an deep and intense prayer life, and was given to ecstacies during which she received messages from heaven.
In 1286 Margaret received a charter to work with the sick poor. She gathered others of like mind, and formed them into a community of tertiaries. They were later given the status of a congregation, and called the Poverelle (Poor Ones). With them she founded a hospital at Cortona. Margaret preached against vice of all sorts to any who would listen. She developed a great devotion to the Eucharist and Passion, and prophesied the date of her own death.
Though she worked for those in need, and though the poor sought her help and advice, the calumny of her earlier life followed her the rest of her days, and she was forever the target of local gossips.
- against insanity
- against mental illness
- against sexual temptation
- against temptations
- falsely accused people
- homeless people
- loss of parents
- mentally ill people
- penitent women
- people ridiculed for their piety
- reformed prostitutes
- single laywomen
- Cortona, Italy
- Book of Saints, by the Monks of Ramsgate
- Catholic Encyclopedia, by Father Cuthbert
- Catholic Online
- Catholic Saints Resource Center
- Katherine Rabenstein
- Lives of the Saints, by Father Alban Butler
- Medieval Religion Listserv, by John Dillon
- New Catholic Dictionary
- Our Sunday Visitor’s Encyclopedia of Saints
O Saint Margaret of Cortona, I too come today as a pilgrim and I pause to pray with you at the feet of the image of Christ Crucified and Risen, whom, as a penitent, you contemplated at length. Lord Jesus, crucified for us, in offering yourself on Calvary for all humanity, you have revealed to us the wellsprings of everlasting life. May the mystery of your Passion enlighten our life making us ready to follow you on the way of holiness and love. Rekindle our faith; teach us to recognize and welcome in our everyday life the plans of your mysterious Providence. Give us the courage to confess our sins and open our hearts to sorrow, in order to receive the gift of your mercy. Empower us to forgive our brethren following the example of your love that knows no bounds. Help us to be humbly disposed to repair the harm we have done by actively and generously serving the poor, the sick, and all who are marginalized and without hope. Give everyone the joy of persevering faithfully, in full harmony with the Church, along the way of the particular calling. Above all others, show the young the splendid plan of love that you intend to bring about for them and with them at the threshold of the new millennium. Enable us to be peacemakers, tenacious weavers of daily relationships of fraternal solidarity, artisans of reconciliation, witnesses and apostles of the civilization of love. O glorious Saint Margaret of Cortona, 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. Amen. - Pope John Paul II, 1999
- “Saint Margaret of Cortona“. Saints.SQPN.com. 11 April 2013. Web. 23 May 2013. <>