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Feast of St. Margaret of Scotland (November 16)   2 comments

Above:  St. Margaret of Scotland

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT MARGARET OF SCOTLAND (CIRCA 1045-NOVEMBER 16, 1093)

Roman Catholic Queen, Humanitarian, and Ecclesiastical Reformer

Also known as Saint Margaret of Wessex

Alternative feast day = June 16

Former feast day = June 10

St. Margaret of Scotland, who began live as a political exile, became a prominent and historically important figure–a humanitarian, a queen, an ecclesiastical reformer, and the mother of several Kings of Alba/the Scots, as well as a great-grandmother of King Henry II of the Plantaganet Dynasty.

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

St. Margaret was a member of the royal house of Wessex–Anglo-Saxon rulers.  Her grandfather was King Ethelred the Unready (reigned 978-1016), who was actually poorly advised, not unready.  Ethelred’s successor was Edmund II Ironside (reigned April 23-November 30, 1016), who preceded the reign (1016-1035) of King Canute of Denmark in England.  St. Margaret’s father was Edward the Exile (1016-1057).  Her mother was Agatha (before 1030-1057).  Our saint, born in Hungary circa 1045, was a great-niece of King St. Stephen I of Hungary I (reigned 1000-1038).  She spent her earliest years in the court of King Andrew I of Hungary (reigned 1046-1060).  The family returned to England in 1057, during the reign (1042-1066) of Edward the Confessor.  After the Norman Conquest (1066), the family found refuge in the Kingdom of Alba (now Scotland) in 1068.

St. Margaret was Queen of Alba from 1070 to 1093.  King Malcolm III Canmore (reigned 1058-1093) was a widower with children.  He was also illiterate, impious, and uncouth.  St. Margaret was devout and persuasive, however.  She and Malcolm had eight children, including several kings (one of them St. David I), St. Edith/Matilda (the mother of Holy Roman Empress then English Queen Matilda, the mother of King Henry II of England and France), and Blessed Edmund of Scotland (circa 1071-1100, a monk from 1097).  St. Margaret convinced her husband to found schools, orphanages, and hospitals.  She used her influence to have Iona Abbey rebuilt and to cause the founding of Dumferline Abbey.  Our saint urged her husband to improve the quality of life for the people of Alba.  She was less successful in her efforts to reduce interclan warfare, though.

St. Margaret encouraged greater piety at home and in the realm.  She was the spiritual director of her household and the royal court.  Our saint, dismayed with the custom of beginning Lent on the Monday after Ash Wednesday, insisted on starting the season on Ash Wednesday.  Furthermore, Eucharistic rites were to follow the Latin Rite, she said.  Sunday was to be a true sabbath, St. Margaret insisted.  She also encouraged frequent communion.

St. Margaret died at Edinburgh Castle on November 16, 1093, a few days after Malcolm and their son Edward died during civil conflict.

Pope Innocent IV canonized St. Margaret in 1251.

St. Margaret understood that temporal power is a great responsibility, never properly a tool for enriching oneself and feeding one’s ego.  She left Alba/Scotland better than she found it.

Wherever you are, O reader, may you leave it better than you found it.  And, to the extent you have any power or influence, may you use if for good, not selfish, purposes.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 29, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES VILLIERS STANFORD, COMPOSER, ORGANIST, AND CONDUCTOR

THE FEAST OF DORA GREENWELL, POET AND DEVOTIONAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN KEBLE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JONAS AND BARACHISIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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O God, you called your servant Margaret to an earthly throne that she might advance your heavenly kingdom,

and gave her zeal for your Church and love for your people:

Mercifully grant that we who commemorate her this day may be fruitful in good works,

and attain to the glorious crown of your saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 15:7-11

Psalm 112:1-9

2 John 1-9

Luke 4:16-22a

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 683

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