Margaret, Queen of Scotland, 1093

Welcome to the Holy Women, Holy Men blog! We invite you to read about this commemoration, use the collect and lessons in prayer, whether individually or in corporate worship, and then tell us what you think. For more information about this project, click here.

About the Commemoration

Shakespeare made familiar the names of Macbeth and Macduff, Duncan and Malcolm; but it is not always remembered that Malcolm married an English princess, Margaret, about 1070.

With considerable zeal, Margaret sought to change what she considered to be old-fashioned and careless practices among the Scottish clergy. She insisted that the observance of Lent, for example, was to begin on Ash Wednesday, rather than on the following Monday, and that the Mass should be celebrated according to the accepted Roman rite of the Church, and not in barbarous form and language. The Lord’s Day was to be a day when, she said, “we apply ourselves only to prayers.” She argued vigorously, though not always with success, against the exaggerated sense of unworthiness that made many of the pious Scots unwilling to receive Communion regularly.

Margaret’s energies were not limited to reformation of formal Church practices. She encouraged the founding of schools, hospitals, and orphanages, and used her influence with King Malcolm to help her improve the quality of life among the isolated Scottish clans. Together, Margaret and her husband rebuilt the monastery of Iona and founded Dunfermline Abby, under the direction on Benedictine monks.

In addition to her zeal for Church and people, Margaret was a conscientious wife and the mother of eight children. Malcolm, a strong-willed man, came to trust her judgement even in matters of State. She saw also to the spiritual welfare of her large household, providing servants with opportunity for regular worship and prayer.

Margaret was not as successful as she wished to be in creating greater unity in faith and works between her own native England and the Scots. She was unable, for example, to bring an end to the bloody warfare among the highland clans, and after her death in 1093, there was a brief return to the earlier isolation of Scotland from England. Nevertheless, her work among the people, and her reforms in the Church, made her Scotland’s most beloved saint. She died on November 16, and was buried at Dunfermline Abbey.

Collects

I. O God, who didst call thy servant Margaret to an earthly throne that might advance thy heavenly kingdom, and didst give her zeal for thy Church and love for they people: Mercifully grant that we who commemorate her this day may be fruitful in good works, and attain to the glorious crown of thy saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

II. O God, you called your servant Margaret to an earthly throne that she might advance your heavenly kingdom, and gave her zeal for your Church and love for your people: Mercifully grant that we who commemorate her this day may be fruitful in good works, and attain to the glorious crown of your saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalm 112:1-9

Lessons

Deuteronomy 15:7-11

2 John 1-9

Luke 4:16-22a

Preface of Baptism

7 Responses to Margaret, Queen of Scotland, 1093

  1. Michael Hartney says:

    Readings: They are all about giving to the poor and seem good choices.

    • Leonel L. Mitchell says:

      Margaret may have though Scottisg liturgy was “in barbarous form and language”, but we she speak more objectively and call them Celtic rites similar to those abolished in England at the Counil of Whitby in 664″,

  2. Nigel Renton says:

    Margaret wasn’t selected, just because she was a queen, so I would like the subtitle to reflect one or two reasons for her choice as well. For example: Queen of Scots, Reformer, and Philanthropist. (The “Scots” . as opposed to “Scotland” form is authentic, and traditionally preferred in that country.)

    I would cut out the first paragraph about Shakespeare and Scottish male nobles. I suggest something along these lines: Margaret, an English princess, was born about 1045 in Hungary, where her parents were living in exile. She grew up in the Hungarian court in a deeply religious environment. She moved to England with her family at about the age of 12, In about 1070t, she married Malcolm, King of Scots.)

    Line 3 of the third paragraph: delete the redundant second “her” in this line.

    Line 2 of the fifth paragraph: delete the solecism “her own native”. As indicated above, Margaret was a native of Hungary. “Native” refers to birthplace, not parentage or nationality

    Line 4 of the fifth paragraph: capitalize “Highland”.

    Line 5 of the fifth paragraph: was this return to “isolation” really brief? Since this is a bio of St. Margaret, it doesn’t really matter here. I would omit it without clear evidence that it really was “brief’. Certainly, there was a hostility a hundred or so years later.

    Last line of the fifth paragraph: after “16,”, add “1093, at Edinburgh Castle,”

    Nigel (whose Scottish Renton ancestors were brave warriors–unless you were English, in which case they were dirty rotten cattle thieves.) 🙂

  3. Celinda Scott says:

    Thanks, NIgel–that was informative, clear, precise, and very interesting.

  4. Charlotte Corneil says:

    Having just run-out (by agreement) the homeless sleeping in the chapel, I couldn’t help but feel the irony of then recognizing this person who seemed so sensitive to the needs of others. As a person of mostly Scot background whose family had maintained ties with home it is a bit insulting even today as I am sure it was then to be told your traditions, custom and language is barbarous and the “latin” is not. They could work up a good inquisition or crusade or witch-hunt if so inclined at the moment. I might leave the barbarous part out. For sometimes it was not easy to see who was the true “barbarian.” Although rigid and intolerant perhaps she did have a sense of duty to all her people. A good choice over all. The readings fit well as did the collect. Her bio. needs some more work IMHO.

  5. John LaVoe says:

    Margaret, Queen of Scotland, 1093
    November 16
    .
    The impression I have of Margaret from the write-up today is a collage of miscellaneous impressions, rather than a linear story of her life and faithful works, and as such the collage has integrity of its own. One piece I don’t find included is an opening that tells of her origins, development, or at least tells of her becoming Queen of Scotland. For whatever reason, the Shakespeare opening strikes me as too oblique. The sentence from paragraph 5, “her work among the people and her reforms in the Church made her Scotland’s most beloved saint,” would serve well as part of her introduction. The sentence beginning, “she died” is perfect as the concluding sentence.
    .
    Being more of a collage than a flow chart, I’m not sure it makes sense for me to go further, but in the spirit of “fools rush in where angels ain’t so blithering stupid,” I will stick my neck out – ever so hesitantly, with great reluctance and due apology.
    .
    After mentioning that she married, who she married, and when, I feel parts of paragraph 4 belong close behind the introductory material, particularly the two sentence fragments, “[as] a conscientious wife and the mother of eight children, / she saw to the spiritual welfare [well being?] of her large household, providing [all, including] servants[,] with opportunity for regular worship and prayer.”
    .
    Sentences from paragraph 3 might then, in part, work well: “She encouraged the founding of schools, hospitals, and orphanages, and used her influence with King Malcolm to help … improve the quality of life among the isolated Scottish clans. Together, Margaret and her husband [also] rebuilt the monastery of Iona and founded Dunfermline Abby, under the direction on (sic) [of] Benedictine monks.”
    .
    Then Paragraph 2, although as an observation, I don’t see the items mentioned (when Lent began, which Eucharistic rite to use, etc.) as illustrating “old fashioned and careless [clergy] practices” so much as being rather matters of liturgical and devotional reform.
    .
    Paragraph 5 is a good conclusion, although (in my imaginary collage) I’d rather state them as aspirations which she would like to have seen better achieved, rather than failings or shortcomings, especially as they were not matters dependent upon her activity alone. (I like the “collage” – I would naturally have the impressions in my own manner.)
    .
    She died on November 16, and was buried at Dunfermline Abbey.
    .
    Collects: Basically, they are fine, with some awkwardness in the phrasing of the first two lines – specifically the placement of the verbs. How about,
    .
    “O God, who didst give thy servant Margaret zeal for thy Church and love for [thy] people, and didst call her to an earthly throne that she might advance thy heavenly kingdom: Mercifully …” (And similarly for the contemporary version.)
    .
    Instead of …
    .
    I. O God, who didst call thy servant Margaret to an earthly throne that [she] might advance thy heavenly kingdom, and didst give her zeal for thy Church and love for [thy] people: Mercifully … (etc.).
    .
    One more thing – I would prefer “remember her” to the more wordy, “commemorate her this day.” (But who am I to mention “wordy”!?)

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