Virginia De Brincat was born in Kercem, Gozo, on the 28th November 1862 to Mikielanġlu and Katerina. She was baptized on the same day at the Parish of St George Martyr, Victoria and given the names, Virginia, Ġużeppina, Marija and Ġiovanna. Virginia was the sixth child from eleven. She had five brothers and five sisters. From her childhood, Virginia used to like silence and solitude. She wanted a small room where she could unite herself with God and pray. She used to go to Church with her mother and her sister Dolores. Through her behaviour, one could see that she was in love with Jesus and that she was a person of virtue. It is unknown when she received her First Holy Communion. On the 15th of April 1871, she received her Confirmation by Mgr Anton Grech delicata, Bishop of Gozo. In the meantime, Virginia learnt how to work the Lace so that she could financially be of help for her family. Virginia used to work the lace facing the Tabernacle of the Church of St Gregory, from where she used to dialogue in silence with Jesus.
At the age of seven, Virginia went to school with her sisters and she always had good marks. After she finished primary school, she used to go toVictoria for private lessons in Italian and French. On her way, she paid visits to the Blessed Sacrament at the Parish Church of St George. It was there that she heard about the Association of the Twelve Stars of the Heart of Jesus. This had been founded among a group of young girls and was being spiritually directed by Fr Joseph Diacono. Virginia strived to form part of this Association which, later on, through Fr Joseph Diacono’s work, developed into a Religious Congregation.
On 5th February 1881, Virginia left her father’s house at Kercem to start her religious formation and entered the House of Charity in Għajn Qatet Street, Victoria. On the 20th February of the same year, she began her Novitiate as Mistress Virginia of the Blessed Margaret. This was her first official personal relationship with the Heart of Jesus, because like the Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque who was canonised later, in May 1920, Virginia wanted to be an apostle of the Heart of Jesus. On 8th December 1887, Virginia did her second Religious Profession and became Sister Margherita of the Heart of Jesus. She was the first to walk at the head of so many Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus.
It was probably on the 8th October 1887, Mother Margherita was called in a supernatural way to leave the House of Birkirkara where she was residing and go to Gozo where Father Joseph Diacono who due to financial problems, was about to dissolve the Congregation. Mother Margherita, who always blindly confided in God’s love, was called in a supernatural way and chosen to carry the burden of the Congregation. She brought the Congregation to its maturity, gave it its proper charism and helped it to spread its branches to foreign countries.
Her life was very tightly interwoven with that of the Congregation of which she was general Superior for almost 30 years. Since the incident of 1887, she is considered the Foundress, having bravely taken the responsibility of guiding the Congregation when it was in the imminent danger of being suppressed. She managed to overcome the serious situation of the Congregation, collaborating fully with the Bishop of Gozo, Mgr. Peter Paul Pace, and totally confiding in the help of Divine Providence.
Mother Margherita’s rule of life can be briefly summarized in the words “Let us love Love”, a statement that contains the whole charism of her Congregation. To love means a way of life through which Love is given first preference. Love is God, Christ, particularly in the Eucharist, to whom Mother Margherita manifested her love by living a spirit of reparation for the offences He receives. This Love deserves to be known and loved by all and everywhere, and, therefore, Mother Margherita instilled this in her Sisters who have fulfilled and are still fulfilling an apostolate with children, with the sick and the aged, with the poor, a missionary apostolate. In this way, the rule “Let us love Love”, became for Mother Margherita, a way of holy life through which they become one with the “Prisoner Spouse” in the Eucharist, and fulfil an apostolic activity through which this “Love is made known and loved”.
In front of all this, we can understand many of Mother Margherita’s expressions as found in her letters. These letters, in all about 200, form a very precious part of Mother Margherita’s spiritual inheritance. In 1918, 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! and when, when shall I be given this grace? Truly, I am embarrassed to think about this; but I strongly desire it”(L.8). She frequently invited all her Sisters: “Yes, even at the cost of all sacrifices we ought to offer ourselves as victims to the Sacred Heart”(L.140). On another occasion, Mother Margherita wrote: “We ought to make reparation; therefore, let us suffer everything that our sweetest Spouse, sends us”(L.91). When in946she wrote 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”(L.135). We can also note from all her teachings, 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. When she once wrote to a sister who suffered from self-love, she told 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”(L.145). She also wrote to another religious: “I recommend to you strength, patience, etc. Seek everything from the Tabernacle: everything is hidden there”(L/153). Mother Margherita was also convinced that near the Tabernacle, close to the Eucharistic presence of Jesus, she could find rest for her heart; naturally, by totally abandoning herself to her “Prisoner of love”. For this reason, she frequently invited: “Pay attention not to lose any occasion of approaching the sweet Jesus in his Pyx. There we find Him ready to enlighten us, to console us and to help us”(L.125). On another occasion, Mother Margherita wrote: “Always seek the company of Jesus in His Tabernacle: from Him, you can gain the help, consolation, and light you need”(L.128).
Mother Margherita truly loved Love. The work that is being carried out to bring about her Beatification has surely been looking closely into this love of Mother Margherita. 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. Mother Margherita died in the odour of sanctity on 22nd of January 1952, at the Mother House, Victoria (Gozo), at the venerable age of 89 years, sorely missed by the sisters and all those who had the fortune to know her. On 4th of July 1988, in the diocese of Gozo, the process of her beatification was initiated. After having gathered together the necessary documents and heard the witnesses of many sisters and lay, the diocesan process was concluded on the 22nd of January 2000, and on the 17th February 2000, the compilation of work was presented to the Congregation of Saints in Rome. On the 4th of March 2004, the “Positio” on the life and virtues of this great woman was presented to the Congregation of Saints. Many are convinced that throughout her life, Mother Margherita was the guardian angel and the spiritual guide of our Congregation. Together with Father Joseph Diacono, she is considered the foundress of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus.
Throughout her long life, Mother Margherita had the satisfaction of seeing the Congregation growing number of good vocations and spreading to the different Continents, assuming always wider international dimensions and a missionary spirit. When she died, she had been in religious life for 71 years, 27 of them as superior-general. By 1952, the number of Franciscan Sisters had risen to 450. The Servant of God, Mother Margherita De Brincat (1862-1952), was a courageous, strong, brave and far-sighted woman who gave a very beneficial contribution to the Religious Congregation.