Saint Margaret of Castello was born into a well-to-do family near Florence, Italy in 1287. To the great distress of her parents, upon her birth they discovered that she suffered from a variety of severe physical ailments. She was a dwarf, had a curved spine that left her hunched over, was lame to the point that she could barely walk and was blind.
Her family was embarrassed by her, and kept her hidden away for many years. As young as age 6, she was walled up in a room beside a chapel. A family chaplain taught her about God. Seeking a miracle, her parents took her to a Franciscan shrine. They didn’t receive one and abandoned her. Some in the community took pity on her, and gave her the help she needed to survive. She became a member of the Dominican Third Order of Castello, developed a deep prayer life and devoted the remainder of her 33-year life to performing acts of penance and charity.
Despite her suffering, Saint Margaret remained serene, calm, cheerful and courageous. She never became bitter, complained, criticized others or became discouraged. She went to mass daily, and prayed fervently to Jesus, Mary, Joseph and St. Dominic. St. Margaret accepted her suffering with the eyes of faith. She did not know why God allowed her to suffer from so many afflictions, yet she did know that He was all-good, did not allow evil without a good reason and always turned evil into good for His children. She wondered why people pitied her; was it not a privilege to suffer with Christ? Suffering for her was her way to heaven.
One benefit of suffering was that it made her more sympathetic to the trials of others. She visited prisoners, helped the sick and comforted the dying.
Saint Margaret has continued doing good in heaven. Since her death at age 33, she has continued to help those who pray to her. Many cures have since been attributed to her intercession. She is an inspiration to those who are discouraged and tempted to self-pity. Her intercession is most powerful to those who suffer from eye and muscular diseases. She has also become a patron for pro-life groups, and those who are unwanted and abandoned.
St. Margaret was declared Blessed in 1609. Her incorrupt body lies under the main altar of St. Dominic Church in Castello. Many visit her shrine there. She was canonized a saint, 701 years after her death, by Pope Francis April 24, 2021.