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Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy All Saints Day

I love this feast day. Many of the children in our parish arrive for morning Mass dressed as little saints. This morning I saw St. George (last year St. George came with a dinosaur masquerading as a dragon), St. Bernadette, St. Therese, St. Teresa of Avila (I think) and a number of others.

One of my favorite saints has yet to be canonized. Blessed Margaret of Castello, who lived during the middle ages, led a sad life if you evaluate it from the world's standards. She was born blind and a hunchbacked dwarf. Despised by her wealthy parents for her ugliness, she was kept hidden in the castle lest anyone know of her existence. Her parents later imprisoned her in a little room next to a remote chapel in the woods where none of their well-born friends would ever see her or learn of her existence. Later, in hopes of a healing they took her on a pilgrimage to a town a day's journey from their home. When the young woman wasn't healed they abandoned her and left for home.

Imagine being blind and alone in a strange city far from home - with no friends, not even an acquaintance. When she was put out of the church at closing she waited there on the steps hoping her parents would return. They never did. Instead, the beggars took her in and shared what little they had as well as how and where to beg. As the townspeople recognized her holiness, many humble families took her in. Everywhere she stayed, changes occurred as her gentle prayerfulness and humble example invited imitation.

When a noble woman of the town learned she was going blind she begged Margaret to pray for a cure. The little saint tried to get her to conform her will to God's and recognize that the sacrifice of her sight could be a great blessing. But when the woman wept and begged Margaret again, the little saint complied and her friend was cured. Margaret became a third order lay Dominican with a special regard for the poor, the sick, the dying, and prisoners. No wonder! She herself had experienced all these states.

Margaret of Costello is the perfect patron for those despised by the world: the poor, the deformed, the unwanted elderly, the little handicapped babies in the womb who so often are murdered for their imperfection. All can turn to the diminutive little hunchback and trust in her intercession. Her incorrupt body lies under the altar at the Church of St. Domenico in Costello, Italy. Author Joan Carroll Cruz included Margaret in her book, The Incorruptibles.

St. Margaret, pray for our poor deformed world, that we might turn away from sin and back to the will of God.

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