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Margaret of Hungary

(1242—1270)


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(1242–70),

princess and Dominican nun. The daughter of King Bela IV and his wife Mary Lascaris, Margaret was born in the castle of Turoc. The Tartar invasions made this a critical time and at the age of three she was offered to the Dominican nuns at Vesprem. Some years later the king built a convent on an island in the Danube near Buda, where Margaret was professed in 1255 and took the veil in 1261. She had previously refused to marry Ottokar, king of Bohemia.

The rest of her short life was spent in prayer, extreme penance, and menial work. Just because she was privileged, she chose the most repulsive tasks in caring for the sick. She also identified with the poor by following their standards of hygiene. Intellectually limited, she centred her devotional life on the Eucharist and on the Passion of Christ. Hence every Lent she fasted very strictly, went without sleep, and performed austerities with long prayers, sometimes accompanied by visions.

Prematurely worn out, she died on 18 January, aged only twenty-eight. An unofficial cult began at once, and pilgrims visited her tomb. In 1277 her cause was begun, the evidence of whose witnesses form the principal source for her life. Her cult was approved in 1789; she was canonized in 1943. Feast: 18 January.

AA.SS. Ian. II (1643), 897–909;G. Frankoi, Monumenta Romana Episcopatus Vesprimiensis, (1896), 163–383;S. M. C., Margaret, Princess of Hungary (1945);B.L.S., i. 123; Bibl. SS., viii. 768–801.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500) — Christianity.


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