THE GIFT OF LIFE
Saint Margaret of Metola
byMons. Sergio Campana and Ubaldo Valentini
This booklet aims at introducing the Saint, imitating her, and discovering her always current messages. She is little known in her land, Italy, than she is in Europe and much more in North America. Does she be invoked in necessity and by obtaining a miracle, we shall see her proclaimed a patron saint of the blind, the marginalized and the disabled.
Man, being intelligent and free, lives for ideals in a conscious and unconscious form. Since the ideal meansbeing perfect as the Father is perfect, it is always unattainable, expectations and hopes accompany us and sustain us in life. “The Saturday of the Village” (Leopardi) is a proof of this. Man is made for beautiful and great things because by nature he is for good, but, because of human frailty or incorrect purposes of life, he is not satisfied and therefore unhappy and becomes sad and pessimistic.
St. Augustine says: “my heart is restless until it returns to you, O Lord.” Many times we make mistakes in the scale of values and for this reason life seems to us a failure. The Gospel says: “where is your treasure, there is your heart.” The plant falls where it hangs. Look for those treasures that thieves do not steal, those treasures that are worth in this world and last forever.
The Saints are those who have lived our own lives in this world, with the difficulties and sorrows perhaps greaterthan our own, with responsibility, with their gaze turned to the Cross and to the service of our brothers and sisters.
Our life is at the service of others for the sake of God who rewards every good action. I was hungry, thirsty, I was homeless, sick, poor, and you helped me. When, o my Lord, did I see you thirsty, hungry, homeless, and sick? Everything you did to your brother you did to me. Enter the joy of your Lord.Whata joy at that moment! The Saints believed and lived according to these realities. Moreover, Jesus said: I came to serve and not to be served. Do as I did. These realities are enduring and Jesus says: the heavens and the earth will pass, but my words will not pass, not a single comma will be taken away. That is why the Saints, while living in distant times, the messages and ideals of their lives are always current, like the Gospel, because they are true and eternal values.
Saint Margaretof Metola (1187-1220), was born and lived in the middle ages, in a historical context very different from ours,but speaks still to the men and women of the 21stcentury. Margaretwas born to a Christian family that loved, respected and wanted life. Every life is great, however it may be, and it is made for eternity. No one can destroy it. You can kill the body but death turns this earthly life into a heavenly and eternal life. When this body is destroyed, we are prepared an eternal dwelling not built by man’s hand.
Today we are afraid of life because of selfishness, a wrong sense of well-being and false piety. You cancel your life, you kill yourself with abortion as a social conquest and as a so-called liberalization of the woman who then becomes the murderer of her own child.
An unhappy, blind, humped, crippled child, but with a pretty face, she is always a creature of God, with human and divine rights. She is a treasure for all mankind. Saint Margaret’s parents, Parisio and Emilia, were described as inhumane in abandoning their creature in Città di Castello, but they had respected her life. If they had acted with today’s mentality we would not have had Saint Margaretof Metola. La Metola is known all over the world not for its castle and fort tower but for Saint Margaret.
Her parents thought, in faith, to baptize her in the Parish church of San Pietro di Massa Trabaria, today Mercatello sul Metauro, in the same baptismal font where St. Veronica Giuliani will also be baptized on December 27, 1660. Two flowers of holiness blossomed in this land of Mercatello and then moved to Città di Castello, where they perfected and exercised their holiness and where their bodies are venerated. Two cities connected by historical, religious and commercial events.
A pious and cultured priest took care of her: he introduced her, still small, into the divine mysteries and instructed her in the classical letters; she threw into her those seeds of religious instruction and holiness that Margaret, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, developed in her life, and helped her to understand the true dimension of her suffering (handicap) and that of others to sanctify herself.
One thing is to talk about pain, another is living it. Only in this way doesone understand the suffering of others and be drawn to help them. The handicapped carries a message of life and discreetly whispers to us:“I too belong to this world with my rights and duties; kindly do not hide me, do not relegate me to the confinement of a house where I can no longer live; take me to see the sun, and the beauties of nature; let me meet people I can talk to. Do not be ashamed of me, it is not my fault to have been born this way; accept me as I am so that I too can donate, teach and make a contribution to the society with pain, patience, wisdom, and with life.” Pain has infinite value in the dogma of the communion of saints. Christ saved the world with pain and the Cross. We too, united with Christ, cooperate in salvation and become mature men in trial.
Saint Margaret was left alone in an unknown city, Città di Castello, helpless and left without parents.Thanks to the Christian education she received, but today so forgotten and uncared for, despite feelingunwanted and unwelcomed,she could in faith findstrength in God, the Father,who supported her. In Godshe entrusted herself and trusted Him.
We trust people, but how many betrayals and disappointments! Scripture says: Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord; cursed the man who trusts in man. But every rule has its own exception. Margaret’s humility and sweetness conquered the poorest who trusted her and a solidarity between poor people was born as to support each other, which is not the case among the rich. Common poverty and pain unite peoples; while well-being and wealth often divide our brothers and sisters. Jesus says: Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. If you are interested in it, go to the poor because they understand you and can help you to reach there; do not go to the rich because they do not understand you. A full belly does not know what hunger is nor those who have not been sick understand the sick.
Margaret tried everything and understood everyone and for this reason she dedicated herself to the pains of others, forgetting her own, with a Christian and supernatural vision. She was not the object, but the subject of an apostolate of healing the sick and saving the healthy.
In the convent, still a child, she dedicated herself to prayer and contemplation of divine mysteries in such an exemplary way that she“scandalized” the sisters themselves. Today we are caught up in the dynamism of life, with its noise, frenzy, and haste, and we say that we do not have time to pray, which is, in fact, simply speaking and listening to the Lord. But to hear God, one requires silence. We live in noise, we create noise, we dislike it, and we no longer hear the voice of those who have no voice, the voice of God and humanvoices. There is a lack of silence, of listening, and of conversation with our fellow men and women, and with God.
Margaret used to hear the voice of God and also understood the needs of people. Endowed with great intelligence and a strong memory, she treasured every instruction and knew in mind all the psalms she recited with deep faith and understanding. She felt the joy of prayer that could be seen from the smile of her face and in ecstasy spoke with the Lord.
Blind, therefore not distracted, she had an intimate union with God, absorbed in contemplation, in listening to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit with her seven gifts so as to advise even the learned, scholars and theologians ofCittà di Castello who confided in her. She possessed a divine science that did not come from studies, but from God who inspired her to speak to human hearts and convert them. She was the woman of prayer, not of formulas, but of true conversation with God. What an example to us who do not pray or pray badly and sometimes only with our lips, while the heart and the mind are far from God!
Blind, with difficulty of movement, alone, woman and helpless, she knew the streets of Città di Castello, the homes of the sick that she went to visit day and night; alone she went to prisons where prisoners were serving their sentences and where those condemned to death waited for execution, to bring comfort to them. Her presence and her words were helpful, because she spoke to them of the love and mercy of God the Father, who writes right even in the crooked ways of men. One could feel that her words were not sermons, but divine words dictated by a heart that suffers and loves.
Physical pain can besore, but the moral pains of heart sadness, loneliness, divided families, betrayed children, betrayed love, family problems hidden out of shame or confidentiality, are even sorer.
Each time Margaret came to know or was called to help a person in need, sensitive, secret, intuitive, she rushed to soothe, minimize the pains with comforting words. She brought peace and Jesus says: Blessed are the bearers of peace, for they will be called children of God.
She did not know and feel the warmth of her family, but the Holy Family was found spiritually engraved in the globes of her heart and in the providential welcome of Venturino and Donna Grigia who welcomed her into their family as a daughter. It was a real gesture of entrusting and not a selfish act of adoption. They respected her provenance, her parents, her feelings and provided her the love and attention she needed, being still young. Donna Grigia introduced her to the bourgeois life of the city, as well as to the Dominican tertiary movement: Le Mantellate.
At the age of 33, Margaretof Castelo closes her earthly existence. All the people of Tifernate participate in the agony and death of their beloved daughter. Today, more and more often, death is relegated to a hospital lane, a hospice, a street, and the corpse is placed in a cold morgue. Society hides death and does not want to face it. This was not the case for Margaret because all the people gathered around her lifeless body and immediately invoked her as a saint. Her tomb is venerated, then as today, in the church of San Domenico in Città di Castello, where pilgrims run to pray to her.
She could be seen dressed in the Dominican tertiary robe, but she was not a cloistral nun: she was a secular lay woman who lived in the world, in direct and daily contact with humanity imbued with pain, infirmity, injustice and sin. Through baptism, every faithful baptized precisely belongs to the Church, the mystical body of Christ, and for this reason is called to holiness in prayer, in union with God,through works so that the kingdom of God may grow. Every person, therefore, by his/her nature, is either an apostle, a Christopher (bearer of Christ) or is an apostate.
Margaret did wonders during her life and performed miracles after her death. Following a rigorous process of canonization, the Congregation of Saints, presided by Card. Bellarmino, proclaimed her Blessed. But the Dominicans, in charge of the liturgical worship, then, did not bother to make her proclaimed Saint despite the existence of a miracle valid for the science of the time.
On October 8, 1988, the bishops of Marche and Umbria obtained from the Congregation of Saints the proclamation of Blessed Margaretof Castello patroness of the blind and disabled in the dioceses of Urbania-Urbino-Sant’Angelo in Vado and Città di Castello.
This life written for the people serves to make known the prodigious life of the Blessed, to love her, to imitate her in her existential and evangelical message, to pray to her, to ask her for a miracle, to see her proclaimed Holy and universal protector of the blind, the marginalized and the disabled.
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