I choose Blessed Margaret of Castello. Cleft and craniofacial birth defects do not actually appear on a "list" of Patron Saints, so far as I can tell. Comedians, yes. Cleft, no. I take this as an opportunity to choose someone who clearly can associate with our child's condition.
Although Blessed Margaret has not been canonized yet, she is included in this Patron Saints list. It is pretty extensive. These few lines from her biography has endeared her to my cause:
"The birth of a deformed child is a traumatic experience for most parents. After the initial shock, grace and compassion conquer outright rejection. This was not so with Margaret’s parents. Blessed Margaret of Castello was born dreadfully deformed. She was a dwarf, totally blind, hunch-backed and so lame she could hardly walk. Her father immediately ordered the child to be kept out of sight."
I remember now, so clearly, those first few months before Holly's lip repair. I remember her birth and how immediate grace and compassion conquered any shock Lee and I may have felt. I remember Lee, after composing himself, walked over to hold Holly and kiss her. And later, how I wanted to hide her, not from sight but from ridicule. I did not want to hear any unintentionally unkind remarks, I did not want my other children to hear any thoughts that they might remember and repeat later.
Margaret, without the love and support Holly has received from such a far reaching community, achieved the status of Blessed. I hope that Holly will know the compassion and love of Jesus as well as Margaret did.
"Margaret was remarkable for clarity of mind and for infused contemplation. She willingly embraced her cross because she saw suffering through the eyes of faith. She did not know why God permitted her to have so many afflictions; but what she did know, was that He never permits one single misfortune without good reason. Margaret often wondered why people pitied her since she viewed her suffering as the expression of Christ’s love for her and her means to gain heaven. Pain made Margaret compassionate, sensitive and understanding toward others. She visited prisoners, helped the sick, comforted the dying. In spite of her handicap, Margaret was always joyful and courageous. She never became bitter, never complained, never reproached others, never lost heart. Rather, Margaret sought and found her strength in prayer and the sacraments. In every adversity, she turned to Jesus, Mary, Joseph and Dominic…there to find the courage to go on. And Margaret did go on…to achieve an intimacy with the Lord known only by those who love Him uncompromisingly."
Blessed Margaret of Castello, I choose you for our Patron Saint.