Meet this newly beatified wife, mother, widow and foundress who sheltered pregnant women

Maria Lorenza Longo

After Our Lady of Loreto obtained her healing, Blessed Maria Llong devoted herself to the poor.

By Larry Peterson

Maria Llorenca Llong was born in Lieida, Spain, in 1463. Born as Maria de la Estirpe, she was the daughter of the noble Requences family and a descendant of a famous Spanish navy captain. In 1483 she married the prosperous lawyer Juan Llong, a friend of Ferdinand II, the Catholic king of Aragon.

During her early married life, tragedy struck young Maria. An angry servant, obsessing over how Maria had scolded him for an infraction of his duties, poisoned her by pouring a deadly mix into her wine glass during a family celebration. The servant failed in killing her, but Maria suffered intense pain and wound up paralyzed, unable to walk.

In 1506, King Ferdinand appointed Maria’s husband, Juan, as the Viceroy of Naples. Despite her condition, she and Juan moved to Naples. But Juan Llong died suddenly in 1509, leaving Maria with three children to raise. She was only 43 years old.

Possessing a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin, Maria decided to make a pilgrimage to Loreto, Italy. Today it takes close to four hours to make the journey by car. Maria had to be carried on a litter with three young children in her care. But she was sure Our Lady would help her.

Maria arrived in Loreto and attended Mass.  While saying prayers of thanksgiving, she experienced a complete cure for her paralysis. She just knew that the Blessed Mother had interceded for her and believed it was a sign from Jesus to devote herself to Him and all of mankind.

Soon after, she put on the habit of a Third Order Franciscan and began calling herself Maria Lorenza. Many thought she took that name because of her devotion to St. Lawrence, who was so devoted to the poor. Nothing can confirm that. But she did return to Naples, arranged for her children to be cared for, and began going about the city helping the sick and the poor the best she could.

In 1519, as a Franciscan tertiary, she established a hospital called  Santa Maria del Popolo and also founded a house to care for prostitutes. She dreamed of starting a convent and calling it Santa Maria in Gerasalamme. It would follow the efficiency and austerity of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare. Her goal was to stay as simple and as humble as possible.This was in 1526.

The noted philanthropist, Ettore Vernazza, joined forces with Maria in Naples. They combined their resources and built Santa Maria del Popolo dei Incurabili (Hospital of the Incurables). This facility, meant to treat those with chronic and incurable illnesses such as syphilis. It had a pharmacy, housed a research lab, and provided accommodations for patients’ relatives. Before long, doctors were coming from all over Europe to get the drugs sold there and review the ideas brought to life at this place.

Following Matteo da Bascio, the founder of the Capuchin monks, Maria started a new order called the Capuchin Poor Clares. Similar to the monks, the nuns wore a simple brown tunic with a cord at the waist and a short cape. Members became known as Capuchinesses. Maria wanted to start the order along the lines of St. Clare of Assisi by following a similar plan as used by St. Clare back in 1212. Maria chose as her spiritual director, St. Cajetan.

Maria’s devotion to her patients was so great that she moved into the hospital to be near them. After a time, services were offered for pregnant women. Sister proclaimed, “Any woman, rich or poor, patrician or plebian, indigenous or foreign, while pregnant, may knock on our door and it will be opened.” Many women were saved because of the expert Caesarean sections perfomed by the hospital’s doctors.

Sister Maria sought papal approval for her new order and on February 19, 1538, Pope Paul III, issued his approval. The official founding was done on December 10, 1538. In addition to the founding, numerous papal privileges were given from Pope Leo X,  Pope Adrian VI, and Pope Paul IV.

Sister Maria Llorenca Llong passed away on December 12, 1539. She was 76 years old. She was declared Blessed Maria Lloorenca Requenses Llong on October 9, 2021 in Naples, Italy by Cardinal Marcello Semeraro by the authority of Pope Francis.

Blessed Maria Llorenca Llong, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019


St. Margaret of Cortona— From Sinner to Saint; her patronages include; the homeless, single moms, orphans, midwives, reformed prostitutes, the insane and more (link at end).

Jesus asked her what her wish was. She answered, ““I neither seek nor wish for anything but You, my Lord Jesus.”

St. Margaret of Cortona                                       en.wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Margaret was born in Laviano, near Cortona, in the province of Tuscany in the year 1247. Her parents were farmers. Sadly, when Margaret was only seven, her mom died. Not long after, her father remarried.  Her father assumed that Margaret needed a woman to step in as her “replacement mom.”

He could not have guessed that Margaret’s new stepmom would have an actual aversion to his young daughter and that young Margaret would quickly come to develop a pronounced hostility for her new “mom.” As she grew, Margaret’s behavior became reckless and uncontrollable. A reputation was attached to her conduct, and soon, she was known. as a ‘bad” girl.

When Margaret was 17, she was introduced to the son of the Lord of Valiano, Guglielmo di Pecora. The young fellow was a dashing cavalier, and Margaret saw her salvation with him. He was someone who might love her, something she had missed since she was seven.

One night she ran away and met with her lover (his name is never mentioned in any of her writings) and moved into the castle at Montepulciano with him. She lived with him in the castle for nine years. They had a son together and he kept promising her that they would get married. She pleaded with him that they could not live sinfully. It did not matter, he refused to give in.  (In her writings, Margaret confesses that she consented to her lover’s demands).

Who could ever imagine that a dog returning home could be the start of the rebirth of spiritual life? It happened to Margaret when her lover’s dog came back to the castle by himself. He went over to Margaret and began tugging on her dress trying to get her to go with him. She finally followed and the dog led her to his master’s body. Her lover who had been murdered.

Margaret blamed herself for her lover’s sinful ways and began to hate her own beauty which had so captivated him. She returned all the jewels, property, and anything else he may have given her to his relatives. Then she left the castle with her son and headed home to her father’s house. Her father would have taken her in but his wife, Margaret’s hateful stepmom, refused to have her. Her husband went along with his wife’s wishes.

Satan is always lying in wait for our weakest moments and he pounced on Margaret. Her first thoughts were to use her beauty to earn some money. Horrified by such sinful thinking she began praying. A voice told her to go to the Franciscan Friars at Cortona and to put herself under their spiritual guidance. When she arrived in Cortona, she was frightened and alone and without money. Two ladies noticed her standing on a corner with her son. She seemed so lost. They knew of the Franciscans and took her to the church of San Francesco to meet them.

Margaret and her son were brought into the Franciscans on a probationary trial period. After three years of probation, Margaret was admitted to the Third Order of St. Francis. (As soon as her son was of age he, too, became a Franciscan). From that point on, she begged her bread, lived on alms, did daily penance, and helped freely those in need. In 1277, while praying, she heard the words, “What is thy wish, Poverella?” (Little poor one).  She answered,   “I neither seek nor wish for anything but You, my Lord Jesus.”

While living such an austere existence, she managed to establish a hospital for the sick, homeless, and poverty-stricken, To develop a nursing staff for the hospital, she recruited select Tertiary Sisters into a group which became known as ‘le poverrele” (the little poor ones”). She also established a confraternity known as Our Lady of Mercy, whose members vowed to support the hospital and to help the poor and needy wherever they might be found.

In 1286,  Margaret was granted a charter allowing her to work with the underprivileged permanently. She preached against vice and many returned to the sacraments. She developed a deep love for the Eucharist and the Passion of Our Lord. She was divinely warned of the day and hour of her death and it came as foretold; she died on February 22, 1297.

She was canonized a saint by Pope Benedict XIII on May 16, 1728. Her body lies incorrupt in a silver casket inside The Basilica of St. Margaret of Cortona.

St. Margaret’s patronage is quite extensive. Use the link here to see the many patronages she had been given. She is undoubtedly one busy saint.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2020