During her first three years in Cortona Margaret kept her son with her. She raised him in the fear of the Lord and soon made him accustomed to an ascetical way of living. She trained him to be self-reliant and to get along without her care. This bringingup involved very painful sacrifices for her motherly heart, and at times in his tender youth the child could not understand why she acted that way. He no longer experienced a mother's caresses, because out of love for God she never allowed herself to kiss him.
She trained him to share her life of penance and mortification. Thus while she carefully prepared meat and fish for the poor, she served him only after them and gave him only raw food.
Comfortloving or worldly persons did not always understand her attitude in this matter. They even criticized her for it. Then with the forceful intensity of the saints she would reply:
"With my son it is a personal bloodrelationship that comes out. But with strangers and the poor, it is only faith and the spirit."
After coming to Cortona she had very strictly forbidden the boy ever to speak of Montepulciano, the lords of Palazzi, or anything but God.
When Margaret entered the Third Order, her friends Marinaria and Raneria placed the boy in a good school in Arezzo. One year when the youth did not come back to spend his Easter vacation with his mother, some malicious gossipers spread the word that her son, having been mistreated by his mother, had drowned himself in a well, out of despair. This slander made a keen wound in the mother's heart, but she endured it in silence, leaving it entirely to the Lord to justify her. While congratulating her on her steadfast patience in such a predicament, Jesus made her understand clearly that she owed it to His grace:
"See, Margaret, My daughter, with what strength I have clothed you, with what perseverance I have provided you. Your soul remained gentle. Before those who attacked you, you kept silent. You did not reply to their questions."
As a matter of fact, the Lord had revealed her son's future to her. One day she said to her confessor:
"When he grows up, my son will enter your Order, as the Lord has promised and revealed to me. He will be not only a Friar, but also a priest and preacher of the word of God."
An early disposition toward virtue was easily noticeable in the boy's soul. His heart, which had been trained from childhood in the spirit of sacrifice, began to hear God's voice calling him to the religious life. And when he left school, he entered the friary of Cortona as a novice.
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