Feast of St Margaret of Hungary
Today is the feast day of St. Margaret of Hungary, a nun of the Order of Preachers. Margaret has become well-known for her extreme and eccentric penances which included a complete disregard for cleanliness. (Is it any wonder that she was chosen as the patron Saint of our Soap Department?) We can sometimes feel repulsed or disgusted by some of the penances of the Saints due to their outlandish character and Margaret is one of these Saints. Filthy and verminous, even the sisters with whom she lived began to avoid her...how then can we be attracted to this Saint? We must seek to understand her motives for seeking such penances.
In our western culture of pervasive luxury, we can find it hard to deny ourselves anything. It is even more difficult to understand why someone might want to. Fr. Benet Driscoll, OP, in his preface for Margaret Princess of Hungary explains, "At its simplest satisfaction means that we who followed our own will even when it meant offending God, now seek to repair the outrage to his Majesty by generously accepting in reparation and love something that goes against our will." Perhaps, then, we could sympathize with a repentant murderer living the rest of his life doing good to others in order to 'make up' for the evils he had done. (Though in truth we are all called to make satisfaction for our sins!) But Margaret was as innocent as could be! What then would inspire her to such a life of penance?
Margaret, as a baby in her mother's womb, was vowed to God for the sake of Hungary's deliverance from the invading Mongols. As a Dominican Nun she fully embraced her vocation as having been given to God for the expiation of Hungary. It wasn't out of hatred or disgust for her body that she treated it with such contempt; but out of love for her people and her God she sought to make satisfaction for the sins of her people.You can read the beginning of Margaret Princess of Hungary by S.M.C. here: St Margaret of Hungary Preface or, if you'd like, head on over to our gift shop to purchase a copy of your own! (Also available in Kindle format at Amazon.com)