Today's Saint of the Day is Saint Margaret of Cortona. Margaret was born to a farming family in Laviano, Tuscany, in the year 1247. Her mother died when she was seven, and life was very difficult with her stepmother. She moved out at the age of 17, and lived with a man named Arsenio, the son of a local noble, for 9 years, and bore him a son, though they were not married. One day, the favorite hound of Arsenio came back unaccompanied, and Margaret, concerned, followed the hound back into the forest to find his dead body. The crime shocked Margaret into a life of prayer and penance. She and her son joined the Franciscan Friars of Cortona, where her son became a friar. Margaret fasted for three years, avoiding meat and eating only bread and vegetables. In 1277, she joined the Third Order of Saint Francis and lived a life of poverty. Margaret participated in public affairs, and twice, claimed the divine command, she challenged the Bishop of Arezzo, Guglielmo Ubertini Pazzi, because he lived like a prince. She moved into the ruined church of Basil of Caesarea, and spent the rest of the life there, till her death on February 22, 1297. She is the patron saint of the falsely accused, homeless, insane, orphaned, mentally ill, midwives, single mothers, and step children.
God, through the intercession of Saint Margaret of Cortona, please help us lead a life of prayer and penance. Amen.