In the back corner of my parish sanctuary, there's a small shrine to Bl. Margaret of Castello. When I first joined St. Patrick's, I had no idea who this woman was. Blessed Margaret of where? But the more I learned about her, the more I realized that she needs to be much better known. She's a great blessed for our times.
Bl. Margaret was born to noble parents, who were horrified when they found out that the son they had so wanted was, in fact, a girl--and a blind, hunchbacked dwarf of a girl, no less. She was hidden away from the world because her parents were terrified someone would see her. Food was passed in through a window, and she could hear Mass and receive communion through another window. (Like many wealthy families, her family had its own chapel.) The local priest undertook her catechesis. But Margaret, for the first sixteen years of her life, saw very few people.
When she was sixteen, her parents heard of a shrine where miraculous cures were being reported. Her parents took her there, praying for a cure. When Margaret was not healed, her parents abandoned her.
Think about that. They left a blind, totally innocent sixteen year old girl, alone. And didn't come back for her. They didn't have a change of heart halfway down the road.
Eventually, she found shelter with some Dominican nuns. She became a member of the third order and took care of those in prison and the dying.
She died on April 13, 1320, at the age of 33. More than 200 miracles have been attributed to her intercession after her death. Her body is incorrupt.
Her feast day is April 13 (yes, a lot of Dominicans in April!). She was beatified in 1609 by Pope Paul V, and her cause for canonization is pending.
She was a blind, hunchbacked dwarf--and yet she worked miracles. She did incredible things in her life, but her parents--and many others--thought she was useless because of her disabilities. No one is useless to God.
For more on her canonization process, and this incredible woman, you can visit the Blessed Margaret's Guild site. (The Guild is based at my home parish. Every Wednesday we have veneration of a relic of her heart, and special prayers, after the daily Masses.)