by Fr. Andre-Joseph LaCasse, O.P.

Blessed Margaret of Castello was born of a noble Italian family near Florence , Italy , in 1287. Born a hunchback, dwarf, blind, and lame, her family was ashamed of her and kept her hidden in virtual imprisonment for nine years in a tiny cells attached to a forest church. It was only through the family chaplain that Blessed Margaret came to know God. Seeking a miracle, her parents took her to a Franciscan Shrine. When she was not cured, they abandoned her.

Blessed Margaret’s faith and courage inspired others in the community to take pity on her and to help her survive. Eventually she became a member of the Dominican Third Order of Castello, where she lived an exemplary life of prayer, penance, and charity. Despite her miseries, Margaret was serene, cheerful, and courageous. She never became bitter, never complained, never reproached others or lost heart. Discouragement was a word she did not know. She found strength in prayer, in daily Mass, in Holy Communion, and sought help from Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and Saint Dominic.

Margaret was courageous because she looked at the suffering with the eyes of faith. She did not know why God permitted her to have so many afflictions. She did know that He was an infinitely loving and kind Father, who never permits one single misfortune without good reason, who always turns 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.

Pain made Margaret sympathetic and understanding toward others. She visited prisoners, helped the sick, and comforted the dying. Since her death at age 33, she has continued to help those who pray to her. Many cures have been attributed to her intercession.

Blessed Margaret of Castello was declared Blessed by the Catholic Church on October 19, 1609. 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 and has become an inspiration for the Pro-Life Movement. She is a help for those who are unwanted and abandoned.

Her incorrupt body lies under the main altar in Saint Dominic Church, Castello. Many visit her shrine to venerate her body and pray for her intercession.

Blessed Margaret of Castello Guild and Shrine

There has been a special devotion to Blessed Margaret at Saint Patrick Church in Columbus , Ohio , since the 1930s. A special Shrine was established in the Church in the late 1950s, with an expansion of the shrine as a separate chapel in the church done in the renovations of the 1970s, and again with the complete renovations of the church in 2003 marking Saint Patrick’s 150th Anniversary.

The Blessed Margaret Guild was established for a number of purposes:

• to promote the canonization of Blessed Margaret

• to raise money for various programs to benefit “The Unwanted,” especially the poor and underprivileged; to promote social justice; to further the cause of Respect for Life; and to promote the principles and ideals carried out by her in her work as a tertiary of the Dominican Order.

Each Wednesday, the Blessed Margaret Novena and Canonization Prayers are prayed at the Masses. A special Mass is celebrated monthly for the intentions of the guild members. The Dominican Friars remember the intentions of the guild in their daily recitation of the Divine Office.

In 2003 the guild raised over $16,000. This money was donated to the Dominican Curia for her continued cause of canonization and to various charities that support pro-life activity, the homeless, medical needs, and the many requests that we receive.

Won’t you consider becoming a member of the Blessed Margaret of Castello Guild? In return, you will share in all the spiritual benefits of the guild, as well as periodic mailings of events happening with the guild. You can contact me for information at the address below. Our guild has less than 1000 members and we are always looking for more. The guild also has many items that can be sent to you as well, such as holy cards, third class relics, books, novenas and prayers, images and statues.

Recent News Concerning Possible Canonization

The guild was recently informed that her cause had been re-examined in 2000 and, in the Diocese of Castello, Italy , a diocesan inquiry on her reputation and fame of sanctity is proceeding. At the conclusion of this phase, the cause will be studied and examined in Rome . Another miracle will be examined for the final Canonization Decree. This miracle to be examined is in a case from Silver Spring , Maryland ! It has been studied by a medical doctor of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints but requires verification with more medical tests. If the miracle were upheld, it would be the one needed for her canonization. This is such good news!

Other major works to help to spread devotion to Blessed Margaret are as follows:

• In 1999, a canonical recognition of the body of Blessed Margaret under the main altar of the Church of Saint Dominic in Castello took place.

• A small fragment has been taken from her body in order to prepare relics.

• Her biography was published in Polish in 2001 and in Italian in 2002.

• In 2003, her habit was discovered and has been given by the Dominican Order to the Shrine of Blessed Margaret at the Church of Saint Dominic in Castello.

The Dominican Curia has begun an aggressive campaign to raise funds to help defray the expenses of the cause. They are asking for $40,000 to $50,000. The summer of 2003 the guild raised over $10,000 for this cause. Any money raised will go directly to further her cause of canonization. Could the chapters of the Third Order consider raising funds for this cause? The money can be sent directly to the Dominican Curia or sent to the shrine here in Columbus . You may contact me for further information. Most importantly, please pray for our efforts and all who are working so hard for Little Margaret’s canonization.

For more information about the Shrine of Blessed Margaret, please contact: Fr. Andre-Joseph LaCasse, O.P., Director, Saint Patrick Church, 262 North Grant Street , Columbus , Ohio 43215