Saint Margaret of Hungary

Margaret-of-HungryToday the Church remembers Saint Margaret of Hungary.

Saint Margaret was a Dominican nun and the daughter of King Béla IV of Hungary and Maria Laskarina. She was born on January 27, 1242 and died on January 18, 1271.

Saint Margaret is truly a unique model of virtue for today’s modern young woman. In a prayer “deal” with God, her father promised her to the religious life at her infancy, in return for an end to the persecution of his country by various enemies. She grew into an exquisitely beautiful woman and for that reason was offered marriage many times. She refused any thoughts or inclination towards a married life. She was passionate about her consecration to Jesus and devoted all her efforts to His service, even defying her father’s will for her to be released from her vows.

Despite her extraordinary beauty, she chose to neglect her appearance and often mimicked the lifestyle of the poor and sick she served in her ministry. She would go months without bathing or grooming herself in any way and she was often described as “repugnant” by those who visited the convent where she lived. It is believed that she adopted this practice as a severe form of mortification due to a self-professed attachment to the sins of vanity and pride.

Margaret was extremely strong-willed and defiant in the face of tasks or requests with which she did not agree. She often fasted from food and sleep, ignoring the rules of community life she shared with her sisters.

Soon after her death at a young age, Margaret was venerated as a saint. For example, a church dedicated to her in Bocfolde, Zala County, appears in documents dated 1426. Steps were taken to procure her canonization shortly after her death, at the request of her brother King Stephen V. The necessary investigations were taken up between 1271 and 1276, but the canonization process was not successful, even though seventy-four miracles were ascribed to her intercession, most of them referring to curing illnesses, even someone coming back from the dead. Among those giving testimony were twenty-seven people for whom miracles had been wrought. Unsuccessful attempts to canonize her were also made in 1640 and 1770. She was finally canonized by Pope Pius XII on 19 November 1943, at that time the feast day of her aunt, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary.

Her feast day is celebrated by the Dominican Order. Raised by Pope Pius VII to a festum duplex, it is the day of her death, January 18.

Her monastery was among those suppressed in 1782, part of the suppression of all monastic Orders by the Emperor Joseph II. At that time, her remains were given to the Poor Clares. They were kept in Pozsony (today Bratislava) and Buda. The relics were partly destroyed in 1789 but some portions were preserved and are now kept in Esztergom, Győr, and Pannonhalma.

In art Margaret is usually depicted in a Dominican nun’s religious habit, holding a white lily and a book.

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O God of truth,
through the Holy Spirit
you blessed our sister Margaret with true humility.
Teach us that same integrity
so that we may constantly turn from our selfishness
to your love.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


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3 Responses to Saint Margaret of Hungary

  1. What faith in, and understanding of, God this woman had. Even this short summary of her life is almost enough to make you weep. The kind of mortification she practiced is unthinkable today, precisely because we are so far from her sort of faith and understanding.

    I think there may come a time, far in the future, when people will say that the real Dark Age in this era of human history was not the thirteenth century at all, but the age we are living in now.

    And somehow, the fact that it was her brother who made the first moves to have her canonized is deeply touching and moving.


  2. toadspittle says:

    “She would go months without bathing or grooming herself in any way and she was often described as “repugnant” by those who visited the convent where she lived. “
    Truly an outstanding role model for us all in the New Dark Ages. And a particular privilege to kneel alongside at Mass.
    If only more of us could be accurately described as “repugnant” – the world would be a better place. (Toad already is, of course.)


  3. Robert says:

    Our Lord pointed out that it is what comes out of the mouth of a man that reveals the state of his soul. The lives of the Saints that challenge the fastidious nasal opinions and sentiments of the gentile, but actually challenge Us to see and not judge Christ in Our Neighbour!
    I recommend for these sad days and the thousands of refugees flooding Europe the unique saint St Benedict Joseph Labre.
    I also recommend seeking out the unwashed and unloved because you will find Christ.


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