St. Margaret of CortonaA penitent of the Third Order of St. Francis, born at Laviano in Tuscany in 1247; died at Cortona, 22 February, 1297. At the age of seven years Margaret lost her mother and two years later her father married a second time. Between the daughter and her step-mother there seems to have been but little sympathy or affection, and Margaret was one of those natures who crave affection. When about seventeen years of age she made the acquaintance of a young cavalier, who, some say, was a son of Gugliemo di Pecora, lord of Valiano, whith whom she one night fled from her father's house. Margaret in her confessions does not mention her lover's name. For nine years she lived with him in his castle near Montepulciano, and a son was born to them. Frequently she besought her lover to marry her; he as often promised to do so, but never did. In her confessions she expressly says that she consented to her lover's importunities unwillingly. Wadding and others who have described her in these early years as an abandoned woman, either had not rightly read her legend, or had deepened the shadows of her early life to make her conversion seem the more wonderful. Even during this period Margaret was very compassionate towards the poor and relieved their wants; she was also accustomed to seek out quiet places where she would dream of a life given to virtue and the love of God.
After three years of probation Margaret was admitted to the Third Order of St. Francis, and from this time she lived in strict poverty. Following the example of St. Francis, she went and begged her bread. But whilst thus living on alms, she gave her services freely to others; especially to the sick-poor whom she nursed. It was about the time that she became a Franciscan tertiary that the revelations began which form the chief feature in her story. It was in the year 1277, as she was praying in the church of the Franciscan Friars, that she seemed to hear these words: "What is thy wish, poverella?" and she replied: "I neither seek nor wish for aught but Thee, my Lord Jesus." From this time forth she lived in intimate communing with Christ. At first He always addressed her as "poverella", and only after a time of probation and purification did He call her "My child". But Margaret, though coming to lead more and more the life of a recluse, was yet active in the service of others. She prevailed upon the city of Cortona to found a hospital for the sick-poor, and to supply nurses for the hospital, she instituted a congregation of Tertiary Sisters, known as le poverelle. She also established a confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy; the members of which bound themselves to support the hospital, and to help the needy wherever found. Moreover on several occasions Margaret intervened in public affairs for the seek of putting an end to civic feuds. Although honoured as a beata from the time of her death, Margaret was not canonized until 16 May, 1728.371d36d75e05eda735858f8e467be99c