Thursday, November 16, 2006

Great Scot! A Married Saint Named Margaret

"He saw that Christ truly dwelt in her heart. What she rejected, he rejected ... what she loved, he, for love of her, loved too."
-Bishop Turgot, St. Margaret's Confessor (and biographer) describing how Margaret's husband King Malcolm III loved her.

Although one doesn't usually enlist a Scotsman (or woman) when praying for an Irish cause, there are two reasons Saint Margaret of Scotland is a perfect choice. First,
in the movie Braveheart, the Scots and Irish fought well together against the British, so there's no reason to think they couldn't team up again against the Trojans. Plus St. Margaret is a saint, a mother and a queen - and that's a triple threat that has served Notre Dame quite well over the years.

Actually, like St. Patrick, St. Margaret was originally from England. But her dad, Edward, King of Wessex, went to live in Hungary when the Danes invaded, and just when St. Edward the Confessor told them it was safe to come back, the Norman Conquest took place. So this time Margaret and her brother, Edgar, sought refuge in Scotland where King Malcolm III immediately fell in love with her. They soon were married and lived happily together for nearly 25 years.

Margaret had received a good education in Hungary but also developed a sense of culture the uncouth Scottish Court surely lacked. She brought basic things like reading and table manners to the court, as well as Catholic practices like the observance of Lent, Easter, and Mass and the abstention of work on Sundays to the countryside. When not taking care of her own children (three of whom would rule Scotland, and one, David, who would follow her into sainthood) she spent her time looking after the poor, founding monasteries and hostels, as well as her two favorite past times, reading and praying. Having already fallen ill (probably due to sheer exhaustion) in 1093, she died shortly after hearing the news that her husband and one of her sons had been killed in the latest war. Margaret was canonized (after repeated miracles) in 1250 and named Patroness of Scotland in 1673.

Although I've always had a fondness for married saints, I love Margaret because her family experience was so much like mine - if in reverse order. Margaret herself was the youngest of four, just as Therese was the youngest of our four children. And Margaret bore eight children, six boys and two girls, dittoing my experience with five brothers and two sisters. Finally, like my saintly wife, Jeanette of Sweden, Margaret of Scotland was gifted with a great sense of aesthetics. So although I write and rule the household (sort of ) like Malcolm, I leave making all things beautiful, whether our website, our garden or our home to her - for what she loves, I, for love of her, love too. Of course, Jeanette never knew (or loved) Notre Dame (or Fighting Irish football) before she met me. So there's reason to believe that St. Margaret (especially with all those sons!) will soon be rooting for the Irish, if not cheering for ol' Notre Dame the night of November 25th.


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