Archive for the ‘Ethelred II the Unready’ Tag

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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Feast of St. Dunstan of Canterbury (May 19)   1 comment

Glastonbury Abbey, 1890

Above:  Ruins of Glastonbury Abbey, 1890

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsc-08401

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SAINT DUNSTAN OF CANTERBURY (909-MAY 19, 988)

Abbot of Glastonbury and Archbishop of Canterbury

St. Dunstan of Canterbury lived and worked in a political context different from that of the modern Western world.  Ideas such as constitutional government and the separation of church and state were foreign to the England of the 900s.  The Magna Carta, hardly the most democratic of documents, was centuries away, as was the concept that the monarch should not play an active role in ecclesiastical affairs.  Indeed, the United Kingdom has adopted religious toleration yet not the separation of church and state in contemporary times.

St. Dunstan, born in Baltonsborough in 909, came from a West Saxon noble family.  He studied at Glastonbury Abbey, where he learned music composition, painting, and mechanical arts, in which he was proficient.  Our saint, as a young man, entered the service of Athelstan, King of the Anglo-Saxons from 924 to 927 then King of the English from 927 to 939.  Petty jealousies in the royal court led to our saint’s exile from it.  False allegations of practicing the black arts constituted the pretext for the exile; violent intimidation enforced it.

At this point St. Dunstan’s life took a crucial turn.  He found refuge with a relative, Alphege, who served as the Bishop of Winchester from 934/935 to 951.  Our saint, recovering from an attack of brain fever, became a monk and began to live as a hermit.

In time St. Dunstan’s life intersected with royalty again.  King Edmund I (reigned 939-946) appointed him the royal treasurer.  During the reign (946-955) of Edred our saint was the de facto ruler of the kingdom, governing ably and well.  These duties overlapped with St. Dunstan’s job as the Abbot of Glastonbury (starting in 943).  In that capacity our saint made the abbey school famous and renewed monastic life.  Edred’s successor was Edwy (reigned 955-959), whose incestuous marriage St. Dunstan denounced.  Our saint spent his exile (955-957) in Flanders.  A rebellion among the Mercians and the Northumbrians made Edgar a rival monarch in 957-959 before he ruled as sole King of the English (959-975).  Edgar recalled St. Dunstan and appointed him Bishop of Worcester (957-959), Bishop of London (958-960), and Archbishop of Canterbury (960-988), as well as a royal advisor.

St. Dunstan made his mark as Archbishop of Canterbury.  He replaced married and other non-celibate priests with monks when possible.  Our saint also reformed monasticism strictly according to the Rule of St. Benedict, rebuilt churches, and promoted education.  His time as archbishop overlapped with the reign of King Edward the Martyr (reigned 975-978), the cause of death was murder.  St. Dunstan retired shortly after participating in the coronation of Ethelred II the Unready (reigned 978-1013 and 1014-1016).  England descended into political chaos despite St. Dunstan’s best efforts during the preceding decades to improve the kingdom.

St. Dunstan enjoyed a quiet and productive retirement.  He lived in Canterbury, where he taught at the cathedral school, painted, composed music, made musical instruments, founded bells, and practiced calligraphy.  He died on May 19, 988.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 15, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE NEW MARTYRS OF LIBYA, 2015

THE FEAST OF ALEXANDER VIETS GRISWOLD, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

THE FEAST OF FRANCIS HAROLD ROWLEY, NORTHERN BAPTIST MINISTER, HUMANITARIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF THOMAS BRAY, ANGLICAN PRIEST

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O God of truth and beauty, you richly endowed your bishop Dunstan

with skill in music and the working of metals,

and with gifts of administration and reforming zeal:

Teach us, we pray, to see you in the source of all our talents,

and move us to offer them for the adornment of worship

and the advancement of true religion,

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Job 1:6-8

Psalm 57:6-11

Ephesians 5:15-20

Matthew 24:42-47

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 377

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