November 15, 2017

Saint Margaret of Scotland, A Model of Virtue

Saint Margaret of Scotland

November 16th, the Church celebrates the optional memorial of Saint Margaret of Scotland, also known as Margaret of Wessex. According to Divine Providence, a shipwreck near Scotland turned out to be good fortune for both that country and its monarch, because it brought the virtuous young woman to their shores. She proved to be a model mother and exemplary queen who worked hard to improve the morality of her subjects. St. Margaret is the secondary patroness of Scotland.

Margaret was born sometime around the year 1050, in Hungary, where her father was living in exile, and likewise spent her childhood there as an unusually devout and pious girl. While her birth date is uncertain, her lineage is unmistakable. The daughter of Princess Agatha of Hungary and Prince Edward Atheling, she was brought up in the court of her great uncle, Edward the Confessor, who was King of England. Her father died suddenly in 1057, the year they returned to England.

When William the Conqueror invaded that country in 1066, the family intended to flee to the continent to escape him.  A storm, however, drove their ship north to Scotland, where King Malcolm took them under his protection. It wasn’t long before Malcolm fell in love with the beautiful and gracious Margaret. The couple was married in 1070, and they had eight children, raised diligently in the Faith.

Although he had a good heart, King Malcolm — and indeed, many of his people — were rough in their manners. Margaret exuded such goodness and piety that they soon followed her example, and before long, the Scottish court was known for both its virtue and great civility. According to the Roman Breviary: "Her most remarkable virtue was love of neighbor, particularly love toward the poor. Her alms supported countless unfortunates; she provided food for three hundred and shared in the work of serving them washing their feet and kissing their wounds."

Already ill, St. Margaret died in 1093, four days after her husband and eldest son were killed in the Battle of Alnwick. Her death was occasioned by a life of near constant austerity and fasting. She was solemnly interred before the high altar in Dunfermline Abbey in Fife, Scotland. Almighty God, who made Saint Margaret of Scotland wonderful in her outstanding charity towards the destitute, grant that through her intercession and example we may reflect among all humanity the image of your divine goodness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son. Amen.

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