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Friday, March 26, 2010

And You Think You Have Troubles: Ask Blessed Margaret for Help

I just finished reading Blessed Margaret of Costello by Fr. William Bonniwell, O.P. (for the second time). What a story. Born in 1287 in the papal state of Massa Trabaria in Italy to rich parents of the nobility (I can't call them nobel). Margaret was grossly deformed with one leg shorter than the other, a hunched back, ugly, and blind. Her parents, embarrassed by their daughter, hid her in the castle whenever guests arrived. Although the garrison of soldiers loved the bright little girl with the sunny disposition, she was unloved and unwanted by her parents. (Sound familiar?)

Fortunately, the priest of the castle recognized her great intelligence and began to form her in the faith from an early age. Despite the fact that she knew of her deformities, her parents often told her how ugly she was, Margaret did not grow bitter or angry. Already she reflected a saintly spirit of acceptance.
When Margaret was six her parents had a little cell built next to a church in the woods away from the castle.  Only the neighboring serfs and country folk worshiped there, none of their noble friends. They locked her into this tiny prison where she lived until she was 14. War broke out among rival states making it necessary for the women of the castle to move into their town home for security. There Margaret was again locked in, hidden in the cellar where she was instructed never to call out or make her presence known. She was fourteen. The cruelty of her parents would be unthinkable if we didn't live in an abusive culture ourselves.

Six years later when Margaret was 20, her parents heard of miracles occurring in the city of Costello over the mountains. They took their daughter there hoping for a cure. When she remained ugly and deformed they abandoned her. Imgaine, blind and deformed, in a strange town where you knew no one. Margaret was adopted by the outcasts and taught how to beg. And yet she never criticized her parents always defending them.

Margaret's story continues. Her sufferings didn't end with abandonment, but she had become such a holy little victim soul that she cheerfully accepted all and united them to those of Christ. Reading her story stirs the soul to humility. Most of us who grumble and complain about our troubles will never bear even a tenth of what this little unwanted woman endured. She teaches the way of suffering.

The book is available from Tan Books and well worth reading over and over. There's a novena to Blessed Margaret in the back.


Unknown said...

I was sort of suprised reading this, Fr. Bonniwell was my Great Uncle. I didn't even know he had a book. I have to get it now.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

This book is wonderfully written. And what a great apostolate for your uncle to make this heroic little victim soul known to our world. I am thanking him today for his part in telling her story to the world. You will like the book I'm sure. I often give it as gifts and urged my book club to read it. The ladies all loved it! What a role model.