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Blessed Margaret

Story ID:4043
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Biography
Location:various Italy
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I'm glad that I grew up when fancy names weren't the rage. The Catholic immigrants
who came to America kept the tradition at Baptism of naming their children after the
saints. Even today, despite their progeny opting for fancy names, I believe that the church
still requires at least one name be that of a saint.

I'll have to look up the lives of the different Saint Suzana's on the internet even though
I asociate my name with the Susanna of the Bible - the one who with other holy women
accompanied our Lord and His apostles on their ministry from town to town - looking to
their needs. She is also mentioned on the third Sunday after Easter as one of the myrrh-
bearing women who came to anoint Jesus with myrrh and spices on Easter Sunday but
didn't find Him! They would find Him later to their great joy-- but He wouldn't need the
oils, spices, and myrrh they had lovingly prepared for His burial.

Margaret is my middle name and my Slovak mother even gave that name when I was
enrolled for kintergarden. I was Margaret until the ninth grade when I found out that Suzana
was my first name. I guess she figured that since she was also Suzana, that having
a "Margaret" in the household would make it more interesting. Growing up, I had been
playfully regaled with "Margie - I'm always thinking of you Margie," and now the song
would change -- "If you knew Suzi like I know Suzi --oh--oh what a gal." This confusion
of names proved at least interesting to me.

Yesterday I had picked up 30 -12cent loaves of bird bread from Schwebel's Outlet store and am
glad that the vacant apartment has a refrigerator where I could store it. I hadn't been feeding the
birds for a month and decided to take a hiatus until fall --that is until one morning when I
spotted two mourning doves in my yard looking for food. So, now with the renter gone - the
one who almost burned down the house with his smoking - I washed the refrigerator with
baking soda and loaded it down with the bird bread. I won't be doing the customary coating
of the bread with an oil and peanut butter mixture now though for two reasons --in the summer
I don't think they need the extra heat from those fats and also it is an expense I will gladly forgo
until the cold winter months.

Always looking for a tiny respite from the day's chores, I picked up "From the House Tops"
(A Quarterly Magazine Spreading the Faith Across the Country). I have no idea who
gave me this gem of a booklet magazine but I am truly grateful. The first story is about Blessed
Margaret of Castello. She was born of nobility. Parisio and Emilia lived richly and comfortably
in a castle at Metola, Italy. They were anxiously awaiting the birth of their first child. Every
one waited in anticipation for the church bells to announce this blessed event. Even the half-
starved serfs were anxious for their liege lord's great day.

But no bell would ring on that fateful day in 1287 because that "beautiful" couple did not get
the boy they wanted. Nor was their daughter beautiful like the mother. Margaret was grossly
deformed and blind.

The writer makes an interesting observation - had Margaret's birth been after 1972, she might
never have existed at all. Parisio and Emilia may have opted for an abortion if it had been available
to them. However, thanklfully, they hadn't had this option and we are not deprived of learning
about this incomparably beautiful soul.

These parents though were anything but compassionate and loving, and from the day of her
birth, the one thought that dominated their lives was how to get rid of her who they considered
an unplanned embarassment. The writer notes that the names Parisio and Emilia are found
nowhere in history today but the handicapped daughter they despised has been declared
Blessed by the Catholic Church.

I wondered why she hadn't been declared a saint before this, but it wasn't until 1944 that her
biography which was written shortly after her death was found and devotion began to spread.

Margaret did not receive the name of her mother who felt it would disgrace her to have
such a child named after her. She also did not want to care for her and gave a peasant
servant this task. By the time she was five, the priest noticed her remarkable intelligence
and began instructing her daily about God.

At about this time she realized how different she was from other children. She only knew life
without sight and walking as a cripple. But the priest told her that God had special reasons
for creating her as He does each one of us. He told her that Margaret meant "pearl" and that
Our Lord was asking her to be His own Margaret.

One day some visitors came to the castle and stumbled upon the little blind, deformed dwarf
in the chapel. When Parisio found out, he was determined he would have to hide his humiliating

The story is long and I ask anyone interested to go to the internet to read it in its entirety.
But sufficeth to say that even though she is actually locked in a cell where the father hoped
she would eventually die, even though she finally was taken to a city for a hoped-for cure but
was later abandoned there by her parents because none was forthcoming, even though
she was accepted into a monastery of lax nuns who began to resent her piety and she is forced
to leave, Margaret bears all things with equanimity and peace. Suffering was a real-- almost
daily part of her life, but nothing deterred her from the love of God.

Her story needs to be read completely for anyone who is intrigued by the life of this selfless,
blind, and handicapped individual. Her life is amazing and she never loses her way from the
path God chose for her. Today --Margaret's incorrupt body lies under the high altar of the Church
of Saint Dominic in Citta-di-Castello, Italy. After 686 years her skin is slighty darkened and dry,
but her eyelashes and nails are still in place and her arms are flexible.

Her parents' lives have faded into oblivion, but this little unwanted cripple's life lives on
as a testimony to the glory of God and His design for each one of us. May she soon be
raised to the altar of sainthood. She is an inspiration for anyone- be they whole or crippled.