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Saint Of The Day For November 16: Saint Margaret of Scotland

Saint Margaret Story: was born in 1045 in Mecseknádasd, Hungary, where her father Edward, heir to the throne of Edmund II of England, had been exiled after King Canute of Denmark seized the kingdom.

His mother Agatha’s origins are uncertain.

Margaret is the second of three children.

She was still a child when, after the death of Canute, her father decided to return to England.

Edward died shortly afterwards and the arrival of the Norman William the Conqueror drove Agatha to take refuge elsewhere with her children.

She took refuge in Scotland, at the court of Malcolm III, hospitable, courteous and generous.

A widower and father of a son, he falls in love with the beautiful and intelligent Margaret, educated in good manners and the Catholic faith.

He asks for her hand in marriage.

The year is 1070: at the age of 24 Margaret is Queen of Scots.

An exemplary sovereign

Malcolm and Margaret’s residence is Edinburgh Castle, where court life is enriched with pious exercises and daily prayers.

Eight children graced the royal couple: six boys and two girls. Kind, patient, gentle and affectionate, Margaret is a perfect wife.

A caring mother, she is loving with her husband: she supports him in his daily difficulties, involves him in his religious practices, offers him her advice in political and administrative matters.

To her we owe the introduction of feudalism on the English model in Scotland and the idea of a parliament, while the castle doors are opened to welcome, help and assist the poor and the sick.

For them the sovereign also had hospices and hostels built.

Margaret, Reformer

Under Margaret, the cults of the local churches were standardised and brought more into line with those of the Church of Rome.

The queen ordered that the Lenten fast be observed and Easter celebrated on the same day, recommended frequent confession and abstention from Sunday work, spread religious education and encouraged the building of churches, monasteries, chapels and schools.

Thanks to her, Benedictine monks founded monasteries in Scotland, ancient abbeys regained their splendour and pilgrim shelters were built.

In the privacy of the castle Margaret devoted herself to the embroidery of sacred vestments, entertained her husband with spiritual readings and decorated books.

Saint Margaret: Greater than death

In poor health, Margaret fell ill in 1093 and her husband and eldest son had to take up arms against William the Red, who invaded Scotland.

They are both killed on 13 November at the Battle of Alnwick.

The Queen’s prayer after hearing the news is well known.

Her words are collected by the monk Theodoric Turgot, prior of the monastery of Durham, later archbishop of St Andrew’s as well as Margaret’s confessor, spiritual father and biographer:

‘Almighty God, I thank you for sending me such great affliction in the last moments of my life. I hope that, with your mercy, it will serve to purify me of my sins’.

On 16 November Margaret died in Edinburgh Castle.

She was canonised in 1250 by Pope Innocent IV for the example she offered with her life, her loyalty to the Church and her charity towards her neighbour.

The oldest church dedicated to her is Saint Margaret’s Chapel in Edinburgh Castle.

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