Margaret displayed her generous and charitable disposition early on in 1411 when Genoa was struck by a famine, and she sought out every possible form of assistance for the people in need. Afterwards, she worked in the interests of the Council of Constance which was attempting to resolve the Western Schism which her cousin anti-pope Felix V was involved in.
After her husband Theodore II, Marquis of Montferrat, died in 1418, she acted as regent for her stepson John James, her stepson, until he attained majority. Legend tells us that when she was widowed, she is said to have prayed to be numbered among the elect. The Lord appeared to her in human form. He offered her three lances, which were the three different trials of calumny, sickness, and persecution, and asked her which she would choose to suffer. She said she would leave the choice to his wisdom, so he granted her all the three.
She went to Alba, not as a princess but as a poor woman, and in a few days she took the habit of the Third Order of St. Dominic. Filippo Maria, duke of Milan, asked for her hand in marriage, but she refused on the ground of her religious vow. Eugenius IV granted a dispensation, but she refused. She asked and received of the Pope, the old abbey of Gracciano, and there she built the convent of St Mary Magdalene where she shut herself up and imitated St Dominic, walking towards Paradise by the difficult road of patience. She was said to have cured her niece Amadea, afterwards queen of Cyprus, whom all the physicians had given up. Margaret also brought up Giannettina de Boccarelli, who became a very holy nun.
She was declared blessed and is the patron of Alba di Monferrato.
Place of burial: Monastery of Saint Mary Magdalene, Alba
1. F. Holböck. Married Saints and Blesseds: Through the Centuries. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2002.
2. A.B.C. Dunbar. A Dictionary of Saintly Women, vol. 2. London: George Bell & Sons. 1905.
3. S. Guichenon. Histoire généalogique de la royale maison de Savoie, vol. 1. Turin: chez Jean-Michel Briolo, 1778.
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