Home > Franciscan-Belgian Foundations (1914-1917), Liturgy & Worship > Belgian Devotion to St. Margaret of Cartona

Belgian Devotion to St. Margaret of Cartona


An image of St. Margaret of Cortona is depicted in a stained glass window at the Basilica of St. Josaphat in Milwaukee.

St. Margaret offers hope to anyone who wants to turn their life around for the better, but struggles to do so—caught in the grip of a vice and living a life of habitual sin. By her intercession, people have been given the grace to open their hearts to sorrow and have been given the courage to confess their sins in order to receive the gift of God’s mercy. St. Margaret is also the patron saint of single mothers.

As a young woman Margaret eloped (fleeing her stepmother) to become the mistress of a young nobleman. She bore him a son, and lived with him for nine years. When he was murdered by bandits, she viewed the incident as a sign from God to publicly confess her affair.

Although she wanted to return home, her father would have nothing to do with her. Instead, she and her son found shelter with the Friars Minor at their church in Cortona. Margaret earned a living by nursing sick ladies. Later she gave this up to serve the sick poor without recompense.

While still young and attractive, she would sometimes have trouble resisting temptations of the flesh, but after each encounter, she would have such an extreme dislike of herself, she would try to make herself unappealing to men. One time, she even tried to mutilate her face.

Eventually, Margaret joined the Third Order of St. Francis (although some members did not wholeheartedly welcome her because of her past). Her son became a Franciscan a few years later.

After Margaret developed a deeper and more intense prayer life, she began to have ecstasies during which she received messages from heaven. Margaret preached against vice of all kinds and many people, through her, returned to the sacraments. She also demonstrated an extraordinary love for the Eucharist and the Passion of Christ.