Fridays will involve discussions on penance, fasting, martyrs, and sacrifice.
Tomorrow is the feast day of St. Margaret of Cortona. She was born in the year 1247 in Tuscany to a poor farmer and her mother died when she was seven. Her father remarried, but her stepmother had little patience for the high spirited young girl. Margaret eloped with a youth from Montepulciano and had a child with him out of wedlock. Nine years later, he was murdered. Margaret returned to her father penitent, but he refused to accept Margaret and her son, so she went to the Friars Minor at Cortona and received asylum.
Margaret had a difficult time overcoming temptations of the flesh. On one Sunday there was an incident where she went to Mass with a cord around her neck and asked for pardon from the scandals she had caused. She attempted to mutilate her face, but was restrained by Friar Giunta.
Margaret earned her living by nursing sick women, but eventually began to serve the sick without payment, living only on alms. She eventually joined the Third Order of Franciscans, and her son joined a few years later. She quickly grew in prayer and is said to have visions and receive messages from God. In 1286 she was given permission to work for the sick poor permanently. Others gathered to help her and she formed her helpers into tertiaries which were eventually given special status as congregations called The Poverelle. She founded a hospital at Cortona and the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy.
There were some who accused Margaret of illicit relations with Friar Giunta, but she continue preaching against vice and lead many to return to the Sacraments. She exhibited extraordinary love for the Eucharist and the Passion of Jesus. She received a vision which told her the day and hour of her death and she died on February 22, 1297. She was canonized in 1728.
St. Margaret of Cortona, pray for us, that we would live lives of penance for our sins, growing closer to Jesus in prayer, love of the Eucharist, and devotion to his most Sorrowful Passion. Ask for us the grace to love and care for the sick and the poor among us, through whom, Jesus visits us daily. Amen.