St. Margaret of Scotland: 10 June

Br. Columba Maria

On the death of King Edmund Ironside of England, his children Edward and Edmund, who were the rightful heirs to the English throne, were sent to the king of Hungary for protection from their father’s grasping successor, Canute the Dane. Edward married the Hungarian king’s daughter Agatha and they had three children: Edgar, Christina and Margaret.

When at length a step-brother of Edmund Ironside, Edward the Confessor, succeeded to the throne, he invited Edward to his court, this in 1054. When the Confessor died, Edgar should by right have been king, but he could not resist either Harold in January, or William the Conqueror in October, 1066, from taking the crown.

Edgar, Margaret, Christina and their mother were received by the king of Scotland, Malcolm, who himself, with king Edward’s help, had avenged the death of his father, King Duncan, murdered by King Macbeth. William tried to recover Edgar from Malcolm but he was bravely and successfully resisted several times in battle. An accord was reached and William, Malcolm and Edgar more-or-less kept peace until William died in 1087.

Malcolm was greatly edified by the virtues of Margaret, who agreed to marry him in 1070, at the age of 24. He was, so to say, a rough diamond, but so charmed was he by her that she was mistress of his heart and indeed of his kingdom. Denying herself in all things and recollected always in God, her conduct in all the affairs of state was impeccable. Great too were both her charity to the poor and her zeal for the Church in Scotland. Working on Sunday was forbidden, and Easter Communion practised again, while all the great arts of Christian civilisation were promoted. She, writing to pope Urban II, succeeded in having future Scottish kings anointed. Malcolm and Margaret’s eight children were brought up to fear God and obey their parents. Three of their sons became good and holy kings of Scotland, and her great grandsons and beyond followed them in a pious, prosperous rule. The marriage of their daughter Matilda to Henry I of England united the Norman and Saxon dynasties to a long-awaited stability.

King Malcolm and his son Edward were treacherously killed in battle by the English/Normans on the same day in 1093 and this was Margaret’s own bitter chalice at the close of her earthly life. Malcolm was buried in Dunfermline Abbey, which he and his wife had founded together, and when Margaret’s coffin was being carried to its new place of rest on her canonisation, it could not be carried past Malcolm’s tomb, so it was laid to rest there beside him.

The reformation, however, has seen Scotland lose both the Faith and most of their relics. What have survived, however, are the oratory she founded atop Edinburgh Castle, and her favourite illuminated book of the Gospels that miraculously survived a spell on a river bed.

See also: St. Edward the Confessor

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