St Margaret of Cortona

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Franciscan sister. Margaret was the beautiful daughter of a Tuscan peasant, born in 1242. At the age of 18 she fell in love with a rich young nobleman and ran away to live with him. The couple had a son. For nine years the local community was scandalised as she is said to have ridden about dressed in fine silks and despising the poor. Her life changed dramatically when she was just 27 when her lover was murdered. Margaret found his body thrown in a pit.

Margaret's parents refused to let her come home, but another family took her in with her child. For some time she was extremely distraught and began to feel very sorry for her past life. She then joined the Franciscans and gradually found peace of mind. Her son later became a Franciscan too.

St Margaret spent the rest of her life caring for the poor and sick. In 1286 she formed her own community which ran a hospital. Many people came to her for advice and prayers and many miracles were attributed to her during her lifetime. She died at the age of 50. Her incorrupt body lies in the church at Cortona. She was formally canonised in 1728.