St Margaret of Cortona healing oil
The St Margaret of Cortona healing oil is dedicated to the Italian penitent of the Third Order of St. Francis. Born in Laviano, near Perugia, and died in Cortona.
Her veneration is widely sought. She is the patron saint for many illnesses. The falsely accused, hobos, homeless, insane, orphaned, and mentally ill count her as their patron.
At the age of seven, Margaret’s mother died and her father remarried. Stepmother and stepdaughter did not like each other. As she grew older, Margaret became more wilful and reckless, and her reputation in the town suffered. At the age of 17 she met a young man, according to some accounts, a lord of Valiano, and she ran away with him. Soon Margaret found herself in his castle, as his mistress, which was more easily condoned than being his wife. For ten years, she lived with him near Montepulciano and bore him a son.
When her lover failed to return home from a journey one day, Margaret became concerned. However her husbands the hound led her into the forest to his murdered body. That crime shocked Margaret into a life of prayer and penance. Margaret and her son then went to the Franciscan friars at Cortona, where her son eventually became a friar. She fasted, avoided meat, and subsisted on bread and vegetables.
In 1277, after three years of probation, Saint Margaret joined the Third Order of Saint Francis and chose to live in poverty. Following the example of St. Francis of Assisi, she begged for sustenance and bread. She pursued a life of prayer and penance at Cortona, and there established a hospital for the sick, homeless and impoverished. To secure nurses for the hospital, she instituted a congregation of Tertiary Sisters, known as “le poverelle” (Italian for “the little poor ones”).
While in prayer, Margaret heard the words, “What is your wish, little poor one?”. To this she replied, “I neither seek nor wish for anything but You, my Lord Jesus.” She would also established an order devoted to Our Lady of Mercy and the members bound themselves to support the hospital and to help the needy.
The Church of Santa Margherita in Cortona was rebuilt in her honour after her death. A silver casket preserves her body inside the church. Her canonisation took place on 16 May 1728 when Pope Benedict XIII canonised her.
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