Recent Posts

Monday, June 11, 2012

Saint Margaret of Scotland

Yesterday, 10 June, was the feast of St. Margaret according to the extraordinary Roman calendar.

St. Margaret was from the House of Wessex, the Saxon line of English kings, towards the end of their reign. She was a descendant of King Alfred the Great, granddaughter of King Edmund, and grand-niece of Edward the Confessor.

St. Margaret was born and raised in exile in Hungary. At one point the family returned to England but when returning to the continent the family was shipwrecked north to Scotland. The family fell into the protection of Scotland's King Malcolm III who was particularly taken with Margaret. At one time contemplating religious life, she married King Malcolm thus becoming queen of Scotland.

St. Margaret lived in a time when "The goal was for the queens and kings to become nothing less than saints." (Prof. Plinio CorrĂȘa de Oliveira). It is said she exemplified the "just ruler." She influenced her husband and children to be holy rulers.

In the biography written by her confessor, the monk Turgot (later Archbishop Of St Andrews), he notes Margaret's influence on her husband, Malcolm: by the help of God she made him most attentive to the works of justice, mercy, almsgiving, and other virtues. From her he learnt how to keep the vigils of the night in constant prayer; she instructed him by her exhortation and example how to pray to God with groanings from the heart and abundance of tears. I was astonished, I confess, at this great miracle of God's mercy when I perceived in the king such a steady earnestness in his devotion, and I wondered how it was that there could exist in the heart of a man living in the world such, an entire sorrow for sin.

Marriage of St. Margaret and Malcolm III

Like a true Catholic monarch, St. Margaret knew her wealth and position was to be used in helping the hungry and poor as well as assisting the Church. She personally made vestments; she built churches and monasteries (including the Abbey of Dunfermline which housed as true cross relic); established 2 ferries for pilgrims. She was instrumental in the reform of the Church in Scotland.

But of the true saint that Margaret is, it was her personal piety that made her so! She rose every midnight to pray. In the mornings, wouldn't eat until she personally fed nine orphans and gave food & alms to the poor. She washed the feet of beggars that came to her for help. She wept over her own sins and begged correction.

Of her eight children, three became kings of Scotland and one was Queen of England when married to King Henry I (thus introducing both the Anglo-Saxon and Scottish royal bloodlines into the Normans).

On her deathbed, St. Margaret learned of her husband's and eldest son's death in battle. Her dying words were "O Lord Jesus Christ, who by Thy death didst give life to the world, deliver me." St. Margaret died A.D. 1093 at age 47. Miracles reportedly took place at Dunfermline Abbey where she and Malcolm III were buried. She was canonized in A.D. 1250 by Pope Innocent IV. During the Protestant "Reformation" in Scotland her head passed into possession of Queen Mary Stuart (Mary Queen of Scots). Her head then went into possession of French Jesuits and is believed to have perished during the French Revolution. The rest of St. Margaret's and Malcolm's bodies have been lost. It was written in the early 17th century that her remaining relics, along with Malcolm's, were obtained by King Philip II of Spain and kept there. However, and attempt to restore them to Scotland during the pontificate of Pius IX was unsuccessful as they could not be found.

Prayer to St. Margaret of Scotland

O Heavenly Patron of Scotland, and my patron saint in whose name whom I glory, pray ever to God for me; strengthen me in my faith; establish me in virtue; guard me in the conflict; at my end be steadfast at my side and plead for me with Christ, my Judge and Savior, that I may vanquish the foe malign and attain to glory everlasting to behold one day thy beautiful countenance. Amen.


Post a Comment