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January 18

St Margaret of Hungary - January 18

Saint Margaret of Hungary

Dominican Nun, Virgin

(1242 – 1271)

“I esteem infinitely more the King of Heaven and the inconceivable happiness of possessing Jesus Christ than the crown offered me by the King of Bohemia.”

Saint Margaret of Hungary

Her Early Years

Margaret (Margit) was born on 1242 in Klis Fortress near Split, Croatia, to King Bela IV of Hungary and Marie Laskaris. She was the eighth and last daughter of the royal couple and the grand-daughter of the Byzantine emperor. During her conception, it was a time when the Mongols were invading Hungary. Her father, King Bela, offered to dedicate their child to the Church if Hungary was freed from the Mongols. Their prayer having been answered, her father, King Bela, and her mother, Queen Marie, made good on their promise by placing Margaret in the Dominican convent at Veszprém, Hungary at the age of three.

Lived a Religious Life as a Child

Blessed Helen of Hungary served as her novice mistress. Margaret was not content with simply living in the house of God. She demanded the religious habit – and received it – at the age of four. Furthermore, she took upon herself the austerities practiced by the other sisters – fasting, hair-shirts, the discipline (scourge), and night vigils. Soon, Margaret learned the Divine Office by heart and chanted it happily to herself as she went about her play. She chose the least attractive duties of the nuns for herself. Margaret would starve herself to keep her spirit humble. No one but Margaret seemed to take seriously the idea that she would one day make profession and remain as a sister, for it would be of great advantage to her father if she were to make a wise marriage.

Pronounced Her Vows

At the age of 10, Margaret transferred to the Monastery of the Blessed Virgin founded by her parents that was on an island in the Danube River near Buda. Today, this island is called Margaret Island, named after her, and is a part of Budapest, Hungary where the ruins of the monastery can still be seen. When Margaret was 12, she said that she had been dedicated to God, even before her birth, and that she intended to remain faithful to that promise. To settle the matter of her vocation, here she pronounced her vows to the master general of the order, Blessed Humbert of the Romans, in 1255, and took the veil in 1261.

Refuses Marriage

At the age of 18, Margaret’s father made an attempt to sway her from her purpose. King Ottokar of Bohemia, hearing of Margaret’s beauty, had come seeking her hand. He even obtained a dispensation from the pope and approached Margaret with the permission. Margaret replied as she had previously, “I esteem infinitely more the King of Heaven and the inconceivable happiness of possessing Jesus Christ than the crown offered me by the King of Bohemia.” Having established that she was not interested in any throne but a heavenly one, she proceeded with great joy to live an even more fervent religious life than she had before.

Imitated The Saints

Margaret’s royal parentage was, of course, a matter of discussion in the convent. But Margaret managed to turn such conversation away from herself to the holy lives of the saints who were related to her by blood – King Saint Stephen, Saint Hedwig, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, and several others. She did not glory in her wealth or parentage, but strove to imitate the saints in their holiness.

Margaret took her turn in the kitchen and laundry, seeking by choice much heavy work that her rank might have excused her from doing. She was especially welcome in the infirmary, which proves that she was not a sad-faced saint. Margaret made it her special duty to care for those who were too disagreeable for anyone else to tend.

Margaret had a tender devotion to Our Lady. On the eve of her feasts, Margaret said a thousand Hail Mary’s. Unable to make the long pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to Rome, or to any of the other famous shrines of Christendom, Margaret developed a plan by which she could go in spiri. She counted up the miles that lay between herself and the desired shrine, and then said an Ave Maria for every mile there and back. On Good Friday, Margaret was so overcome at the thoughts of Our Lord’s Passion that she wept all day. She was frequently in ecstasy and very embarrassed if anyone found her so and remarked on her holiness.

Her Death

No doubt Margaret shortened her life by her austerities. At the end of every Lent, she would be exhausted by fasting and lack of sleep. On Holy Thursday, she claimed the right as the daughter of the convent’s founders to wash the feet not only of the sisters but also the servants. Worn out by her efforts, she died in Budapest, Hungary on January 18, 1270 at the age of only twenty-eight. In art, is usually depicted in a Dominican nun’s religious habit, holding a white lily and a book. Her relics were given to the Poor Clares at Pozsony (modern Bratislava, Slovak Republic) when the Dominican Order in the area was dissolved. However, in 1798, most of her relics were destroyed, but some are still preserved at Gran, Gyor, Pannonhalma, Hungary.

Miracles

Her friends and acquaintances petitioned for her to be acclaimed a saint almost immediately after her death. Among them was her own servant, Agnes, who rightly observed that this daughter of a monarch showed far more humility than any of the monastery’s maids. Their testimony expressed Margaret’s overpowering desire to allow nothing to stand between her and God

Many of her contemporaries told of these excesses and of miracles in which Margaret was involved. The sacristan told how Margaret would stroke her hand and coax her to leave the door of the choir open after Compline so that she might spend the night before the Blessed Sacrament when she ought to have been sleeping. One of the convent maids fell into a well and was on the point of drowning but was saved by Margaret’s prayers. Asked what she thought of Margaret, she said, “She was good, holy and edifying in her conduct, a lot more humble than we serving-maids”.

Born :                   1242 in Klis Fortress near Split, Croatia

Died:                    January 18, 1271 in Budapest, Hungary

Beatified:            July 28, 1789 by Pope Pius VI

Canonized:         November 19, 1943 by Pope Pius XII

Feast Day:          January 18

Patron Saint:    Against Floods

Source:

Reflection 

Despite her royal background, Saint Margaret of Hungary embraced humility. She willingly accepted the tasks of manual labor in the convent, choosing a life of simplicity and service. Her humility challenges the notion that nobility and humility are incompatible. Since most of us do not come from a royal background, it should be easier for us to embrace humility in our daily lives.

What selfless act of love will you humbly offer up today as a testament to your love of Christ, just as Saint Margaret did during her lifetime?

Prayers

Saint Margaret of Hungary,
compassionate friend to the poor and sick, your life of devotion and humility inspires us to seek holiness in our own journey.

May you intercede for us in our moments of need and inspire us to extend love and mercy to those around us.

As you found solace in the Eucharist, the source of true strength, may our hearts be drawn to the Real Presence of Christ.
Help us to approach the Holy Mass with reverence and devotion and may our communion with the Lord deepen our spiritual journey.

O Princess of Hungary, model of holiness, pray for us before the throne of grace, that, following your example, we may live a life pleasing to God.

Saint Margaret of Hungary, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – The great saints who built Hungary

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 18 January – St Margaret of Hungary OP (1242-1270)

All Saints & Martyrs – Saint Margaret of Hungary

Catholic Exchange – St. Margaret of Hungary

Catholic Online – St. Margaret of Hungary

CatholicSaints.Info – Saints of the Day – Margaret of Hungary, Queen by Katherine I Rabenstein

Loyola Press – Saint Margaret of Hungary Feast Day January 18

New Advent – Aldásy, A. (1910). Bl. Margaret of Hungary. In The Catholic Encyclopedia

Saints, Feast, Family – The Story of Saint Margaret of Hungary

Video Link

Feast of St. Margaret of Hungary – YouTube (St. Mary of the Woods Catholic Church – Chicago)

January 18th St. Margaret of Hungary | The Saint of the Day Podcast – YouTube (Good Catholic)