After nine years, her lover was brutally and shockingly murdered. As a result, Margaret returned to her father's house as a penitent. Yet her father refused to accept her and her son. So she turned to the Friars Minor at Cortona where she received asylum.
Young Margaret had great difficult in progressing in virtue and overcoming the pernicious sins of the flesh. She asked pardon for her past scandals and sought repentance; sometimes she was so severe that the Friars had to retrain her penance.
Margaret for a time earned a living by nursing the sick but eventually she gave up the profession and began to care for the poor without cost and living only on lams. She joined the Third Order of St. Francis, and her son also joined the Franciscans a few years later.
St. Margaret advanced rapidly in prayer and was said to be in direct contact with Jesus, as exemplified by frequent ecstasies. Friar Giunta recorded some of the messages she received from God.
In 1286, Margaret was granted a charter allowing her to work for the sick poor on a permanent basis. Others joined with personal help, and some with financial assistance.
Soon thereafter, Margaret formed her group into tertiaries, and later they were given special status as a congregation which was called The Poverelle ("Poor Ones"). She also founded a hospital at Cortona and the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy. Some in Cortona turned on Margaret, even accusing her of illicit relations with Friar Giunta. All the while, Margaret continued to preach against vice and many, through her, returned to the Sacraments.
She showed extraordinary love for the mysteries of the Eucharist and the Passion of Jesus Christ. Divinely warned of the day and hour of her death, she died on February 22, 1297, having spent twenty-nine years performing acts of penance. She was canonized in 1728. Her body is incorruptible.
St. Margaret of Cortona, pray for us!