FEBRUARY 22. MARGARET OF CORTONA, BORN-AGAIN VIRGIN
Patron saint of the accused, hoboes, the homeless, the insane, the orphaned, mentailly ill, midwives, penitents, single mothers, reformed prostitutes, stepchildren, and tramps
Lived 1247 to 1297
Margaret of Cortona was a spirited child. She also possessed a rare beauty, and "ere long this became a snare for her." Rejected at home, she made off with a youth and bore him a son out of wedlock. She had qualms about her position. "Like St. Augustine, she prayed for purity--but not just yet."
IT'S DEATH FOR NO REASON AND DEATH FOR NO REASON IS MURDER!
After nine years, Margaret's lover was murdered without warning. He'd been on a journey, and his hound returned unaccompanied, whining and tugging her dress. The hound led her to heart of the forest to her lover's slain body. Shocked, she returned to her father a penitent, and he refused to accept her. Some friars gave her asylum, but Margaret had difficulty overcoming the temptations of the flesh. One Sunday, she returned to her hometown with shorn hair, humble garb, and a cord around her neck. At Mass, she asked for pardon from past scandal and attempted to mutilate her own face.
HOW TO TRIUMPH OVER EARTHLY INCLINATIONS
From then on, Margaret was holier, and she subsisted solely on alms. She wanted to to become a nun, but the friars made her wait for it. She wept over her sins 24/7, and sobs so choked her voice she could not speak. After three years, she and her son were finally allowed to join the Franciscans, and--advancing in prayer--Margaret made direct contact with Jesus during frequent ecstacies. "Finally, after uninterrupted struggling, she had triumphed over every earthy inclination." Many souls were released from purgatory upon her prayers. At her approach, evil spirits shuddered and left those they possessed.
LITTLE POOR ONE(S)
Lost in prayer, Christ's disembodied voice asked Margaret: what is your wish, poverella? Poverella means "little poor one." Her congregation of tertiary sisters was known as "le poverelle" which means "little poor ones" plural.
Margaret's relationship with Christ was ever-evolving. Like many lady saints, she longed to be espoused to him, but he kept her at bay for a while. Eventually the disembodied voice went from poverella to daughter, and (at long last!) from daughter to a "still dearer title" of spouse. "Her longings were now crowned, there was naught more to desire; but Our Lord who is infinite wished to console her beyond all hopes." As such, Christ promised her that she would no longer be the "poor companion of his virgins" but she would actually rank among virgins in his kingdom (aka she would be a born-again virgin).