On May 30, 1988, the Bishop of Gozo, Mgr Nikol Cauchi, published a decree announcing the opening of the diocesan informative process to prepare for the eventual beatification and canonisation of Mother Margherita Debrincat, foundress of the Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus. This process in fact started on July 4, 1988.
It was she who then brought the congregation to its maturity- Fr Joseph Gauci
Almost 12 years later, on January 22, 2000, the day marking the 48th anniversary of Mother Margherita’s death, this diocesan informative process was concluded, and the beatification process is now being continued in Rome. We hope that the beatification of Mother Margherita, the first in the history of the diocese of Gozo, may be celebrated in the near future.
Virginia Debrincat, who took the name of Margherita when she became a nun, was born in Kerċem on November 28, 1862, and was baptised at the parish church of St George in Victoria that same day.
In her youth, Virginia used to go to Victoria for private lessons in Italian and French, and there she heard about the Association of the Twelve Stars of the Heart of Jesus, founded among a group of young girls, whose spiritual director was Fr Joseph Diacono. Virginia decided to join this association which, later, through the efforts of Fr Diacono, became a religious congregation known as the Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus.
When Fr Diacono decided to resign as spiritual director of the congregation he had founded, Mother Margherita, as Virginia became known, took over from him. She had always blindly confided in God’s love and chose to carry the responsibility of running the congregation. It was she who then brought the congregation to its maturity, who helped it open branches in other countries, and who gave it its proper charism.
Mother Margherita died at the mother house of the congregation in Victoria on January 22, 1952.
Mother Margherita’s rule of life can be briefly as “Let us love love”, a statement that contains the whole charism of the congregation. To love means a way of life through which love is always placed first. Love is God, Christ, particularly in the Eucharist, to whom Mother Margherita and her Sisters manifest their love by living a spirit of reparation for the offences directed to God.
This love deserves to be known and loved by all and everywhere, and, therefore, Mother Margherita and her Sisters have always carried out an apostolate with children, with the sick and the aged, with the poor, a missionary apostolate, through which love can be made known and loved everywhere.
In this way, the maxim “Let us love love”, became for Mother Margherita, as it is still for the Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus, a holy way of life through which they become one with the ‘Prisoner Spouse’ in the Eucharist, and fulfil an apostolic mission through which this love is made known and loved.
In the light of all this we can understand many of the expressions in Mother Margherita’s letters. These letters form a very precious part of her spiritual heritage.
In 1921, she wrote to her spiritual director, Mgr Anthony Galea: “Let us love our sweetest Jesus who loves us infinitely! Oh how much I want to love Him with His same Heart! But when shall I be given this grace? Truly, I am embarrassed to think about this; but I strongly desire it”.
She often invited her Sisters: “Yes, even at the cost of all sacrifices we ought to offer ourselves as victims to the Sacred Heart”. On another occasion, Mother Margherita wrote: “We ought to make reparation; therefore, let us suffer everything that our sweetest Spouse sends us”.
Writing in 1946 to one of her communities whose house was named after the Heart of Jesus, she said: “Your house is of the Sacred Heart: therefore, through your union and your fidelity make reparation for the many offences He receives even from his daughters”.
We can also note from these words how Mother Margherita strongly believed that the Eucharistic Tabernacle is similar to a powerhouse that gives spiritual energy to the human hearts that approach it with love.
Mother Margherita also believed that the Tabernacle is a school of all the necessary virtues for Christian life. Writing to a Sister who was prone to selfishness, she advised her: “Recommend yourself frequently and warmly to the Eucharistic Heart that can help you to understand and eradicate from your heart all egoistic sentiments and to cultivate only the sentiments of humility and simplicity”.
She also wrote to another nun: “I recommend to you strength, patience. Seek everything from the Tabernacle: everything is hidden there.”
Mother Margherita was also convinced that near the Tabernacle, close to the Eucharistic presence of Jesus, she could find solace; naturally, by totally abandoning herself to her ‘Prisoner of love’.
For this reason, she frequently invited her Sisters: “Take care not to lose any opportunity of approaching the sweet Jesus in his pyx. There we find Him ready to enlighten us, to console us and to help us.”
On another occasion, Mother Margherita wrote: “Always seek the company of Jesus in His Tabernacle: from Him, you can drink the help, consolation, and light you need.”
Mother Margherita truly loved love. On the 60th anniversary of her death, the work that is being carried out to bring about her beatification will surely be looking closely into this love of Mother Margherita.
And when this aim is reached, which we hope will not take too long, all of us can confidently follow in Mother Margherita’s footsteps so that, like her, we can love love and make it known and loved by all and everywhere.
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