St Margaret

This September there are two national pilgrimages in honour of St Margaret.  If you would like to know a little more about this saint, and why she is so important in Scotland, read on. Saint Margaret of Scotland 1045-1093 

Margaret was born in Hungary and at age of 12 she went to the English court with her mother and brother. However when the Normans invaded England she escaped in a ship bound for Hungary which was blown off course to Scotland. King Malcolm III welcomed her, fell in love with her and they married in 1070.

Margaret reigned as Queen of Scotland until her death in 1093.  They had 8 children who were educated well and all lead good lives: Edward, Edmund, Ethelred, Edgar, Alexander, Edith, Mary and David. Only 3 sons (Edgar, Alexander and David) became kings of Scotland. It is believed that her children are responsible for 200 years of progress and peace in Scotland.

Margaret introduced important religious reforms and brought richness of culture and good manners to the court. She persuaded and persisted in reducing Scotland’s isolation and brought about the cessation of some church traditions that did not conform to Rome. She invited the Benedictine Order to establish a monastery in Dunfermline and supported a ferry crossing “Queensferry” over the Forth River for pilgrims.

Each day Saint Margaret would feed nine orphans who came to her door. Saint Margaret’s cave, where she used to go to pray, is now buried under a car park in Dunfermline but is open to the public. There is a pilgrimage to this site each September.

Margaret was the trusted counsellor of her husband and although she lived amidst the luxury of the royal court she worked hard for the material improvement of her country.  Margaret built churches and monasteries, and embroidered vestments and altar cloths.  She set up homes and hospitals, and gave food and clothing to the poor.  The restoration of the monastery at Iona was also supported by Margaret.

St Margaret depicted in Edinburgh Castle

St Margaret depicted in Edinburgh Castle

On her deathbed Margaret was given the news that her husband and eldest son had been killed in battle which she accepted as God’s will. She died a few days later.

Saint Margaret was canonised in 1250 and later declared Patroness of Scotland. Her Feast day is celebrated on November 16th in Scotland.