Saint Margaret of Scotland

 

Feastday: November 16

Saint Margaret of Scotland (c. 1045 – 16 November 1093), also known as Margaret of Wessex, was an English princess of the House of Wessex. Margaret was sometimes called "The Pearl of Scotland". Born in exile in Hungary, she was the sister of Edgar Ętheling, the short-ruling and uncrowned Anglo-Saxon King of England. Margaret and her family returned to England in 1057, but fled to the Kingdom of Scotland following the Norman conquest of England of 1066. Around 1070 Margaret married Malcolm III of Scotland, becoming Scottish queen. She was a pious woman, and among many charitable works she established a ferry across the Firth of Forth for pilgrims travelling to Dunfermline Abbey, which gave the towns of South Queensferry and North Queensferry their names. Margaret was the mother of three kings of Scotland (or four, if one includes Edmund of Scotland, who ruled Scotland with his uncle, Donald III) and of a queen consort of England. According to the Life of Saint Margaret, attributed to Turgot of Durham, she died at Edinburgh Castle in 1093, just days after receiving the news of her husband's death in battle. In 1250 she was canonized by Pope Innocent IV, and her remains were reinterred in a shrine at Dunfermline Abbey. Her relics were dispersed after the Scottish Reformation and subsequently lost.

Early life

Margaret was the daughter of the English prince Edward the Exile, and granddaughter of Edmund Ironside, king of England. After the Danish conquest of England in 1016, Canute had the infant Edward exiled to the continent. He was taken first to the court of the Swedish king, Olof Skötkonung, and then to Kiev. As an adult, he travelled to Hungary, where in 1046 he supported Andrew I's successful bid for the throne. He was then also known as "Andrew the Catholic" for his extreme aversion to pagans, and great loyalty to Rome. The provenance of Margaret's mother, Agatha, is legally disputed, but Margaret was born in Hungary around 1045. Her brother Edgar the Ętheling and her sister Cristina were also born in Hungary around this time. Margaret grew up in a very religious environment in the Hungarian court.

Return to England

Still a child, she came to England with the rest of her family when her father, Edward, was recalled in 1057 as a possible successor to her great-uncle, the childless Edward the Confessor. Whether from natural or sinister causes, Edward died immediately on landing, but Margaret continued to reside at the English court where her brother, Edgar Ętheling, was considered a possible successor to the English throne. When the Confessor died in January 1066, Harold Godwinson was selected as king, Edgar perhaps being considered still too young. After Harold's defeat at the battle of Hastings later that year, Edgar was proclaimed King of England, but when the Normans advanced on London, the Witenagemot presented Edgar to William the Conqueror who took him to Normandy before returning him to England in 1068, when Edgar, Margaret, Cristina and their mother Agatha fled north to Northumbria.

Journey to Scotland

According to tradition, the widowed Agatha decided to leave Northumbria with her children and return to the continent. However, a storm drove their ship north to Scotland, where they sought the protection of King Malcolm III. The spot where they are said to have landed is known today as St Margaret's Hope, near the village of North Queensferry. Margaret's arrival in Scotland in 1068, after the failed revolt of the Northumbrian earls, has been heavily romanticized, though Symeon of Durham implied that her first meeting with Malcolm III may not have been until 1070, after William the Conqueror's Harrying of the North.
Malcolm was a widower with two sons, Donald and Duncan. He would have been attracted by the prospect of marrying one of the few remaining members of the Anglo-Saxon royal family. The marriage of Malcolm and Margaret took place some time before the end of 1070. Malcolm followed it with several invasions of Northumberland, in support of the claims of his brother-in-law Edgar, as well as to increase his own power. These, however, had little result beyond the devastation of the county.

 

Source: Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Margaret_of_Scotland

 

 

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