Disabled, Despised and Abandoned: Discover the Extraordinary Life of “Saint Margaret of Castello”

By Michelle Laque Johnson

The Italian child who would become St. Margaret of Castello was born blind, crippled, and lame – among other disabilities. Her first years were spent locked in a cell next to the Church because her parents were so ashamed of her. Eventually, she was brought to the town of Castello where those same parents were hoping that Margaret would miraculously regain her eyesight. When that didn’t happen, they heartlessly abandoned her on the streets.

In the extraordinary new EWTN docudrama “Saint Margaret of Castello: Seeing Through God’s Eyes,” which premieres at 1:30 p.m. ET and 8:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 19, we are told that, like Job in the Old Testament, Margaret was “someone who would normally have every reason to curse life. We should imagine today…a beggar, right? One who goes around our cities, handicapped, disabled.”

But that’s clearly not what happened with the child who would become known as St. Margaret of Castello. How is it possible that a child with so many handicaps, locked in a cell and abandoned on the streets, could even dream of becoming holy?

How is it possible that this child, whose disabilities were despised during the time in which she lived, became revered among the townspeople because of her spiritual wisdom and acts of charity to the sick and dying as a Third Order Dominican?

And why, after her cause for canonization languished for seven centuries, did the general postulator of the Order of Preachers, who was focused on some of the other 100 registered causes in progress, suddenly decide to make Margaret of Costello’s cause a priority?

These are just a few of the questions that are answered in EWTN’s one-hour docudrama filmed on location by the Italian Filmmakers Daniela and Fabio Gurrieri of CRISTIANA Video. By interviewing those intimately connected with Margaret’s life and by utilizing the historical testimony of “the great Franciscan Author Ubertino da Casale” in his book “Arbor Vitae Crucifixae,” the filmmakers have done us a great service. This book is almost impossible to get in its original language and has never been translated into English.

To whet your appetite for this child’s story, and for the extraordinary discovery made regarding Margaret’s heart after her death, we will tell you this. Veneration of Margaret has been exceptional throughout the centuries and it increased dramatically in the 20th Century. During the docudrama, the general postulator tells us that he “received a letter from a parish in an unknown town in Ohio, in the United States; a letter written by 20 or so mothers” and addressed to him and to the Pope. They asked for Margaret’s “equipollent canonization.” This special type of canonization bypasses the usual process and leaves it to the Pope to make the decision on the basis of certain criteria!

These mothers had wittnessed a special grace, which the docudrama describes. As the general postualtor looked into it, he discovered that his office had received many such letters over the years from all over hte world. In fact, there are institutes in the Philippines for blind and disabled chidren who are named for Margaret. Why?

While Margaret was declared a saint by Pope Francis on April 24, 2021, a Eucharistic celebration of her canonization will be held on Sept. 19, 2021 in Citta di Castello, Italy. It is there, under the altar of St. Dominic Church, that Margaret’s body with all its many disabilities rests.

Why is this year Margaret’s time to shine? As one of those interviewed in the docudrama says: “In my opinion, the fact that her canonization arrives at the moment of the COVID pandemic may be a sign because, at a time of suffering, a time of crisis, some good may come, if we know how to live thorugh it in the right way.”

Don’t miss this beautifully filmed and very important program family! You may even discover a new saint to whom to pray!