Saint Margaret of Cortona

Penitent (1247-1297)

Margaret was born in 1247 ‐ the beautiful daughter of a Tuscan peasant. At 18 she ran off with a young nobleman and lived with him for nine years. After his violent death she returned to the Sacraments and joined the Third Order. She had to work hard to bring up her illegitimate son and had to put up with a lot of gossip; but she still found time to help others ‐ especially the sick. She had a great devotion to the Passion of Christ and to the Holy Eucharist. She died on 22nd February 1297. She was canonized by Benedict X III in 1728.

From a letter of Saint Basil the Great

P. G. 32, 378-382

Rejoice and be glad, for my child was dead and is alive again

Does one who falls not get up again? Does one who goes astray never turn back? Sacred Scripture witnesses that there are many remedies for evil, many remedies for salvation from disaster. It relates the mysteries of death and resurrection; the fearful judgment and eternal punishment, the dogmas on penance and forgiveness of sins. There are countless examples of conversion; the lost coin; the strayed sheep; the prodigal son; lost and found, dead and come to life again. Let us use these remedies for evil; they will bringg healing to our souls.

While it is still possible, let us get up after a fall and never despair of ourselves because of falling into sin. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. “Come let us adore him and come before him with tears of repentance”. The Word calls out to us loud and clear:

“Come to me all you who labour and are heavy burdened, and I will refresh you.” He is then the way of salvation if only you want it.

Death has a powerful swallow, but remember, God has wiped away every tear from the face of the penitent. “The Lord is faithful in his words”. It is no lie when he says: “If your sins are as scarlet they shall be white as snow; if they are red as crimson, they shall be white as wool.” What sort of excuse can you allege when he talks like that?

The Lord wants to cleanse you from a plague of sorrow, and give you light after darkness. The Good Shepherd leaves the whole flock to seek out the wanderer. He will not delay, will not refuse to carry you on his shoulders if you will let him; he is so happy to find the sheep that was lost.

The Father is standing waiting for your return from the error of your ways. Only return; still standing a long way off, he will then run up to you, fall about your neck, throw his arms round you, as you are cleansed in the embrace of penance. Then it is the best robe for the soul, now divested of the old man and all his works; a ring for hands cleansed by the blood of death; sandals for the feet, now turned from the path of sin to follow the Gospel of peace. He will proclaim a day of happiness and rejoicing for men and angels and celebrate in so many ways our conversion.

Does he not say: “Amen, I tell you, there is joy in heaven before God over one sinner who repents”? Should anyone stand aloof and complain that you are accepted back, the Good Shepherd himself will answer for you: “We must be glad and rejoice, for this child of mine was dead and is come back to life; was lost and is found”.


Father of mercy,
we remember how you told us:
“I desire not the death of the wicked
but rather that they turn to me and live.”
We know how you led Saint Margaret of Cortona
from her sinful ways to a life of virtue.
Help us to free ourselves from the sins we cling to,
so that we may serve you with clean hearts.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.