Blessed Margaret of Savoy
Frontispiece from Barisano’s vita of 1692
|Born||June 21, 1382 or 1390|
|Died||November 23, 1464|
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Beatified||9 October 1669 by Pope Clement IX|
Her paternal grandparents were Giacomo of Savoy, titular Prince of Achaea and his second wife Sibylle of Baux. Her maternal grandparents were Amadeus III, Count of Geneva and Mahaut d'Auvergne. Their claim to the throne of Achaea came from her great-grandfather Philip of Savoy, eldest son of Thomas III of Piedmont and Guia of Burgundy. Philip married Isabella of Villehardouin, Princess of Achaea and co-reigned with her from 1301 to 1307. They were both deposed by Philip I of Taranto but continued to claim the title. However Giacomo was a son of Philip by his second wife Catherine de la Tour du Pin and his claim to be the heir of Isabella of Villehardouin was disputed.
On January 17, 1403, Margaret married Theodore II, Marquess of Montferrat, a member of the Palaiologos dynasty and male-line descendant of Andronikos II Palaiologos. Theodore was the widower of Jeanne of Bar, daughter of Robert I, Duke of Bar and Marie Valois. Her piety increased after she had heard the preaching of Vincent Ferrer, who spent several months in Montferrat. This marriage lasted for fifteen years but was childless. Theodore died in 1418.
When she was left a widow, she decided to abandon the world. Leaving the direction of the affairs of the marquisate to Jean-Jacques, the son of her husband by his first marriage, she retired to Alba where she joined the Third Order of St. Dominic.
A little later, Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan, asked her hand in marriage and begged Pope Martin V to relieve her of her vow. But Margaret opposed a formal refusal to this request and with several young women of rank, she founded a monastery and placed it under the rule of the order of St. Dominic. Redoubling her mortifications she remained a model of piety and died at Alba, 23 November 1464.
Cult and relics
On 13 December 1464, her remains were placed in a simple tomb; in 1481 they were transferred to a different and much more beautiful sepulchre built in her monastery at the expense of William VIII of Montferrat. They are presently held in the church of Santa Maria Maddalena, Alba.
- Short lives of the Dominican saints, 1901, John Procter , pp. 334-337 (on line).
- Marie-José de Belgique, La maison de Savoie : La maison de Savoie : Les origines. Le Comte Vert. Le Comte Rouge, vol. 2, Paris, A. Michel, 1956, 425 p., p. 110.
- Jean Prieur, Hyacinthe Vulliez, Saints et saintes de Savoie, La Fontaine de Siloé, 1999, 191 p. (ISBN 978-2-8420-6465-5, p. 92-93.
- New Catholic encyclopedia -Catholic University of America 2003 - Volume 9 - Page 150 "MARGARET OF SAVOY, BL. - Widow, abbess and foundress; b. .....At his death in 1418, she went to her estate in Alba where eventually she and her companions became Dominican tertiaries, taking simple vows and living in community. She founded the Monastery of St. Mary Magdalen 25 years later.."
- Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena, "Short Lives of the Dominican Saints", p.334, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., London, 1901
- Clugnet, Léon. "Blessed Margaret of Savoy ." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 4 Jan. 2013
- Lucetta Scaraffia, Gabriella Zarri -Women and Faith: Catholic Religious Life in Italy from Late ... - 1999 - Page 223 "As an example of a middle way, there are the troubles of Margaret of Savoy (1382-1464)... the young princess was given in marriage to Theodore II Paleologus as a means to end the contention between the two royal families. Theodore was fifteen years older than she, a rough, military man, and already the father of two children who were nearly of the same age as the young bride."