St Margaret of Scotland – 16th November
The feast of St. Margaret was formerly observed by the Roman Catholic Church on 10 June but is now celebrated each year on the anniversary of her death, 16 November.
St Margaret was born in 1046 and was a member of an ancient English royal family. Her family was exiled to Hungary when King Canute and his Danish army defeated England. She was an intelligent woman and was formally educated in Hungary. Margaret returned to England with her family in 1057. Margaret’s younger Edgar had a strong claim to the throne of England but it was given to Harold Godwin. Amongst the last remaining Saxon Royals in England, the family’s position was precarious and so fearing for their lives they fled northwards away from the advancing Normans. Their plan was to head back to mainland Europe from Northumbria but their ship was blown off course and landed in Fife.
The Scottish King, Malcolm lll (Malcolm Canmore) offered them his protection. He became very fond of Margaret and in turn asked her to marry him. She initially refused but eventually they were married in Dunfermline in 1069.
Their marriage was happy and positive for Scotland. Margaret modernised ceremony and culture in the Scottish Court, bringing it more in line with other countries this then improved Scotland’s civilised reputation. Margaret was renowned for her good influence on her Malcolm and also for her devout piety and religious observance. Under her guidance, much to joy of the working-class, abstinence from servile work on a Sunday was implemented.
Margaret founded churches, monasteries and pilgrimage hostels and established the Royal Mausoleum at Dunfermline Abbey with monks from Canterbury. She had a special devotion to Scottish saints and instigated the Queen’s Ferry over the Forth so that pilgrims could more easily reach the shrine of St Andrew. Mass was changed from the many dialects of Gaelic spoken throughout Scotland to Latin, she believed that all Scots could worship together in unity, along with the other Christians of Western Europe.
Margaret cared especially for the poor and orphans. Her piety is said to have caused considerable damage to her health with the repeated fasting and abstinence. In 1093, as she lay on her deathbed after a long illness, she was told that her husband and eldest son had been ambushed and killed at the Battle of Alnwick in Northumbia. She died shortly after aged just forty-seven. She was buried alongside her husband in Dunfermline Abbey. She was canonized in 1250 by Pope Innocent IV.
Prayer to St Margaret
Loving Father, we thank you for the life of St Margaret and pray that we too may follow a life of faith, love and charity. We hope that, by our example, we too may may encourage others to enrich the lives of those less well off than ourselves. Help us to to have the willingness and ability to care for others. Bless our parish and let it be a community of love and sharing; a source of life and grace. Amen