History


 

 

 

7th March

 

The Servant of God Margaret Lekeux

 

Virgin, Third Order

Margaret Lekeux, or Maggie as she was called by the poor of Liége, was born at Arlon, Belgium, on August 2, 1892. Her father had become an invalid two years after his marriage; and her mother gained a livelihood for the family as a school teacher.

The family moved to Liége when Maggie was seventeen. At the time, she was attending a normal college; and in Liége she continued her studies for two more years. Her brother and biographer, Father Martial, then entered the Franciscan Order. Before he left home, Maggie went to him for advice. She knew that her parents wished her to take a position as a teacher in a grammar school; but she desired nothing more than to continue her studies.

Father Martial suggested to her a life of self-sacrifice and renunciation in the world. Maggie made the sacrifice, and found strength for it in prayer. She chose as her motto: “I want to live in the world to do good. "She was a school teacher for the rest of her short life, first in a school conducted by the Daughters of St. Vincent de Paul in a suburb called “the Congo of Seraing,” then in a -school of the

Sisters of St. Mary not far from her home, and lastly in one which was in the care of Benedictine Sisters.

During vacations and after school hours she devoted herself with singular zeal, patience, and charity to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Although frequently misunderstood, she persevered in her self-imposed

task. Accompanied by her helper, Joan, she visited the homes of the poor, helped the needy and the sick by every means in her power, and brought about numerous conversions. To the families of the poor and rough Flemings, who ‘were miners and employees of factories and railroads, she became an angel of charity.

She lived with her parents in Hesbaye Street, opposite the Franciscan friary; and one of the fathers who was likewise engaged in apostolic and social work among the Flemings became her spiritual director. Maggie joined the Third Order Secular of St. Francis in 1913; and gradually she rid her soul of all self-love, embraced a life of complete self-renunciation, and surrendered herself unreservedly to the love of God and her neighbor.

On August 7, 1914, the German army captured the fortress of Liége, and the First World War was on. Maggie had taken a course in nursing with the Red Cross a short time before; and she nursed the wounded soldiers in the improvised hospitals of theJ esuits and Franciscans. But as soon as a semblance of normal conditions was re-established, she resumed her social and apostolic work among the Flemings.

When the war broke out, her three brothers, two of them Franciscans, were called into the midst of the bloody fray. Her aged parents were almost inconsolable. But Maggie repeatedly assured them that their sons would return home safe and sound. She was sure of it, because she had secretly offered her life to God that He might spare her three brothers. God accepted her sacrifice.

On ‘Ash Wednesday, March 8, 1916, at the age of twenty-three years and seven months, having predicted her ‘death several months beforehand, she died of a mysterious illness and went to receive the guerdon of her self-sacrifice. Her three brothers passed unscathed through the war, although they were at death's door again and again. The dangers which they encountered were so great and imminent that their escape was truly miraculous.

Maggie’s life exemplifies in a striking manner that true greatness and genuine happiness come not from self-seeking and self-indulgence but from self-renunciation and self-sacrifice; her example demonstrates that in the midst of the world, occupied with many cares and activities, one can lead a life of union with God, unencumbered by the passing things of earth. Her life and work is a practical exemplification of heroic Catholic action. Not a few who have turned to Maggie in their needs, report remarkable favours received through her intercession. (Cf. Habig, Maggie, The Life-story of Margaret Lekeux.)2

 

 

 

Prayer of the Church

 

Hear, O Lord, we beseech The, of thy heavenly goodness,

the prayers of Thy suppliant people, that they may both perceive

what they ought to do, and may have strength to fulfil the same.

Through the same Christ Our Lord Who liveth  and reigneth
with
Thee  and the Holy Spirit,  One God, now and forever.  Amen

 

 

1.Habig, Marion A., O.F.M., 1959, ed., The Franciscan book of Saints, Franciscan Herald press, Chicago, Illinois

2. Habig, Marion, A., OFM., 1937, Maggie, The Life- Story of Margaret Lekeux, Franciscan Herald Press, Chicago, Illinois

 

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