Saint of the Day – 30 December – Blessed Margherita Colonna (c 1255-1284)

Saint of the Day – 30 December – Blessed Margherita Colonna (c 1255-1284) Virgin, Nun, Mystic, Apostle of the poor. Born in c 1255 at Palestrina, Rome, Italy and died on 30 December 1284 at Castel San Pietro, Rome, Italy of natural causes. Also known as – Margaret, Margherita, Marguerite.

The Roman Martyrology states: “At Palestrina in Lazio, Blessed Margherita Colonna, Virgin, who preferred poverty for Christ to the riches and pleasures of the world, which she served by professing the Rule of St Clare.

Margherita was a member of the Italian Colonna family, which was notable in Italian history for centuries. She was born in Palestrina in 1255, daughter of Oddone Colonna and Mabilia Orsini who had two other children – Giovanni and Giacomo. In 1212, Giacomo became Cardinal of St Prassede and Legate of the Pontiff during the Fifth Crusade. It was he who brought the Column to Rome from the East, which, according to tradition, was used for the flagellation of Christ and which, even today, is preserved in the Roman Basilica which was his seat.

The years in which Margherita lived, were complicated and tumultuous for the Church: from 1268 to 1271, the Papal seat remained vacant, for the longest period in history. The Pope had not resided in Rome for twenty years. Long conclaves were followed by short Pontificates – the power of the Pontiff was fundamental eroded in the balance of the antagonism between France (Charles of Anjou occupied many regions of Italy) and the German Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

Margherita and the two brothers were soon orphaned. Destined for a prestigious wedding, important for noble alliances in her day, Margherita, in her heart, however, only wanted to be the virginal bride of Jesus. On 6 March 1273, with two pious housewives, she retired to Castel San Pietro, on the mountain overlooking Palestrina, at the Church of St Maria della Costa, to follow her vocation. In the wake of the Franciscan movement, their ideal of life fascinated a multitude of people from all walks of life. Margherita put on the rough habit, under which she put a sackcloth. She began fasting and penance, praying that her wish would come true: – to become a Poor Clare Nun.

She lived there for a few years in retreat. Her life as an anchorite was a scandal for the powerful Colonna family. However, the comfort came from her brother Giacomo, who, although very young, was already a Cardinal (from 1278) at the behest of Pope Nicholas III, while Giovanni was a Senator of Rome. Giacomo sincerely loved Christ as did his sister, so he took Margherita to Rome and together they prayed at the Tomb of the Apostles Peter and Paul. Then a new life began for Margherita. The substantial inheritance no longer belonged to her, it belonged to the poor who are never lacking on the path of the Saints. Her shining example aroused interest, especially from other women eager to spend their lives like her in the service of Jesus.

Margherita asked the General of the Friars Minor Girolamo Masci (future Pope Nicholas IV) for permission to enter the Monastery of Assisi. However, an illness prevented her from doing so. The Lord’s plans were different. She then thought of the Convent of Mentola (between Palestrina and Tivoli) where an image of the Holy Virgin, to which she was very devoted, a place also visited by St Francis. However, it was a fiefdom of the Count of Poli who did not want a Colonna in his territories. Margherita returned home and, with the help of her brother, the Cardinal, founded a Monastery on the nearby mountain, where the Lord was praised night and day.

Margherita took care of the formation of her companions but her charity went further, to the sick and the poor of the neighbouring region. Tradition says ,that once Jesus and the St John the Baptist came to her table, when she fed the poor but then disappeared when Margaret recognised them.

Having exhausted her substantial personal patrimony, she, who was born very rich, reached out to ask for alms and thus be able to continue her works of mercy for the suffering and hungry. She is also remembered for assisting the Friars Minor of the nearby Zagarolo Convent.

Margherita’s union with Christ became more and more intense: she was visibly comforted by Jesus, the Madonna and the Holy Father Francis. She fell into ecstasy several times and for seven years, she patiently endured an ulcerative wound on her side, carried like a stigmata of the Passion of Jesus.

Not even thirty years old, Margherita’s death was precious in the eyes of the Lord. She died, due to violent fevers, on 30 December 1284. Immediately her Tomb became a pilgrimage destination and the devotees, through her intercession, obtained many graces. In 1285, the community of Poor Clares moved to Rome, by the authorisation of Pope Honorius, taking with them, the venerated body of the Blessed (it remained there until 1871).

Margherita’s first biographer was her brother, the Cardinal and the second was the first Abbess of the St Sylvester Monastery in Rome, where her sisters had moved.

On 17 September1847, the Blessed Pope Pius IX confirmed the “ab immemorabili” cult and the liturgical memorial. Today the relics of Blessed Margherita are venerated in the Church of Castel San Pietro, not far from Palestrina. Here the seed she sowed over seven centuries ago, is still alive today through the Poor Clares of the Monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli.

O God, You have made
the Blessed Virgin Margaret
admirable in the contempt of earthly goods,
ardent with love for You,
grant us, through her intercession,
that we may be continuously united to You,
as we carry our cross.
Pour upon us, O Lord,
the spirit of holiness
that You have given
to Blessed Margherita Colonna,
so that we can know the love of Christ,
which surpasses all knowledge
and enjoy the fullness of eternal life.
With Christ our Lord
and the Holy Ghost.


The Sixth Day in the Christmas Octave, Madonna of San Luca / Nostra Signora della Guardia / Our Lady of Saint Luke of La Guardia, Bologna, Italy (433) and Memorials of the Saints – 30 December

The Sixth Day in the Christmas Octave

Madonna of San Luca / Nostra Signora della Guardia / Our Lady of Saint Luke of La Guardia, Bologna, Italy (433) – 30 December:

The Abbot Orsini wrote: “This picture was in the Church of Santa Sophia, at Constantinople, with this inscription: “This picture, painted by Saint Luke, must be taken to the mountain of La Garde and placed over the Altar of the Church.” A Greek monk set out for Italy about the year 433, with the picture entrusted to him and deposited it on the mountain of La Garde.

The account mentioned by the Abbot above, is also told in the chronicle of Graziolo Accarisi, who wrote of a Greek hermit who went on pilgrimage to Constantinople where he received from the Priests of the Church of Santa Sofia, the icon of Our Lady of La Guardia. This image was attributed to Saint Luke the Evangelist and there was an inscription on the painting itself that it should one day be taken to the “mountain of the guard.”
The hermit took the Icon,and walked throughout Italy in search of the place where the Icon was meant to be,but it was not until he reached the City of Emilia near Bologna that the authorities of the City came out to greet him and processed with the icon back to the mountain. The Icon had finally found its home and it is now more commonly known as the Madonna of San Luca.
Among the many miracles attributed to the image is especially noted the “miracle of the rain,” which occurred on 5 July 1433. An extremely heavy spring rain came late in the season, threatening to destroy the crops. Facing the prospect of famine, the people turned to the Blessed Virgin for assistance. The storm and rain stopped suddenly, with the arrival into the City, of a procession carrying the miraculous Icon. Since that time these processions have been repeated annually. There is even an incredible arched walkway that is only a little short of four kilometers in length, that is meant to protect the Icon from the elements, as well as those on procession.
The Icon shows the Blessed Virgin Mary holding the Infant Jesus in blessing. She wears a blue-green robe, with a red tunic. The nose, eyes and fingers appear somewhat elongated. The Divine Child wears a tunic of the same colour as His Mothers’, with His right hand in a gesture of giving a blessing and his left hand being closed. In 1625 the image was covered with a silver panel which leaves only the faces of the figures uncovered.
The Icon was crowned in 1603 by the Archbishop Alfonso Paleotti. The Sanctuary of Saint Luke, where the Icon is kept, was declared a national monument in the year 1874. In 1907 the Church was raised to the dignity of a Minor Basilica by the holy Pope Saint Pius X.

The Sanctuary is situate some 300 metres above the City plain, just south-west of the historical centre of the City. While a road now leads up to the Sanctuary, it is also possible to reach it along a 3.8 km monumental roofed arcade (Portico di San Luca) consisting of 666 arches, which was built in 1674–1793. It was meant to protect the Icon as it was paraded up the hill. A yearly procession from the Cathedral of San Pietro in the centre of Bologna to the Sanctuary goes along this path. The arches held sacred images or Chapels erected by patron families. There is also a cable car which takes tourists up to the Basilica.

Cable car approaching the Mountain Sanctuary

St Anysia of Thessalonica
St Anysius of Thessalonica

St Egwin of Worcester OSB (Died 717) Bishop of Worcester, England, Benedictine Monk, Reformer and Penitent, miracle-worker. Egwin was devout and lived for God from his youth. His biographers say, that king, clergy and the faithful, all united in demanding Egwin’s elevation to Bishop.
About St Egwin:

St Elias of Conques
St Eugene of Milan
St Pope Felix I
St Geremarus

Blessed Giovanni Maria Boccardo (1848-1913) He is remembered as “Father of the Poor” – Priest, Founder of the Poor Daughters of Saint Cajetan. 
His Life:

St Hermes of Moesia
St Jucundus of Aosta
St Liberius of Ravenna
Blessed Margherita Colonna (c 1255-1284) Virgin, Nun

St Perpetuus of Tours
Bl Raoul of Vaucelles
St Raynerius of Aquila
Bl Richard of Wedinghausen
St Ruggero of Canne
St Sebastian of Esztergom

Martyrs of Alexandria – (5 saints): A group of Christians martyred in the unrest caused by Monophysite heretics. We know the names for five of them – Appian, Donatus, Honorius, Mansuetus and Severus. They were martyred in c 483 at Alexandria, Egypt.

Martyrs of Oia – (6 saints): A group of Christians martyred together, date unknown. The only details to have survived are the names – Cletus, Florentius, Papinianus, Paul, Serenusa and Stephen. They were martyred in Oia, Greece.

Martyrs of Spoleto – (4 saints): A group of Christians martyred in the persecutions of Diocletian – Exuperantius, Marcellus, Sabinus and Venustian. They were martyred in 303 in Spoleto, Italy.