Feast Day : April 13
Also known as: Margaret of Citta-de-Castello; Margaret of Metola
Margaret of Castello was born in 1287 as a blind, lame, hunchbacked dwarf. Because of her deformities, her parents kept her hidden from sight. In 1293 they took her to a healing shrine in Citta-de-Castello, Italy, and when a miraculous cure was not forthcoming, they abandoned her. She was found in a parish church. Sympathy poured out to her, and she was cared for by a succession of families in the village. Nuns at a local convent gave her a home, but the arrangement was not mutually satisfying. Margaret found the convent too lax, and the nuns did not care for her religious fervor; nor did she bring them any profit. Margaret then settled in a permanent foster home. At age 15 she became a Dominican tertiary. She cared for the sick and the dying, and also cared for the village children and gave them religious instruction. She helped prisoners. Margaret also had miraculous gifts. She prophesied and healed. Though blind, she had many visions. During periods of intense prayer, she was known to levitate up to 20 inches off the floor and remain suspended for a long time. Margaret often exclaimed, “Oh, if you only knew what I have in my heart!” When she died in 1320 at age 33, her heart was cut open. In it were three pearllike pellets carved with images of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph. After her death, more than 200 miracles occurred that were attributed to her intercession. In June 1558 Margaret’s coffin was observed to be rotting, and it was opened in order to transfer her remains to a new one. Her clothing had turned to dust, but her body was incorrupt. It was determined to be free of embalming chemicals. Margaret’s body was reclothed and buried in a new coffin. It now lies in a glass reliquary beneath the high altar of the Church of St. Domenico in Citta-de-Castello. The body still has its eyelashes and fingernails and toenails, and the arms are flexible. It is dressed in a Dominican habit. One of Margaret’s most notable miracles took place when she was living in a private home. One day fire swept through the area, and the house burned. Margaret was trapped upstairs. She calmly went to the top of the stairs, took off her mantle, rolled it up and threw it down to the firefighters, telling them to throw it on the fire. They did so, and the fire immediately went out.