On the 16th of November 1093, Saint Margaret of Scotland passed away. This passing followed the death of both her husband, Malcolm III and their eldest son who died following the Battle of Alnwick which took place three days earlier. Margaret had undertaken a life of poverty and fasting due to her religious beliefs and would have already been in a weak state. She was buried in Dunfermline Abbey. In 1560, Mary Queen of Scots had her head removed to Edinburgh Castle as a relic to help her in childbirth. Since then, it has gone missing following a transfer to Madrid during the French revolution.
Margaret was the daughter of Prince Edward the Exile and granddaughter of Edmund Ironside, King of England. After the Danish conquest of England, Edward was placed in exile. Margaret herself was born in Hungary and only returned to England when she was 10-years-old. Margaret and her family had to flee after William the Conqueror’s victory at the Battle of Hasting.
Traditionally it is said that Margaret’s mother, Agatha, decided to leave and return to the continent. However, the ship was caught in a storm which drove them north to Scotland where they were shipwrecked. The spot the ship landed on is now known as St. Margaret’s Hope. Malcolm Canmore, the widowed King of Scotland, was attracted to the princess who landed on his shores. Malcolm Canmore married Margaret in 1070.
Margaret played a large role in her husband’s life and even the ruling of Scotland. The King often consulted her on state matters, and she worked hard to promote the arts and education within Scotland.
She often read stories from the Bible to her Husband who could not read. She was a strong and pure character who brought about great religious reforms to Scotland.
She served orphans and the poor every day before eating and washed the feet of those poor in an imitation of Christ. Every night she rose at midnight to attend church services. Her private life was spent in prayer and devotional reading.
Her devotion had a strong effect on Malcolm. Despite his rough and uncouth nature he still admired her commitment so much that he had her books decorated in gold and silver.
Following both her husband and her son’s death she passed away and died shortly after her husband. She was canonised in 1250.
Margaret was a woman of virtue as well as love and commitment to the poor. She went above and beyond what was expected in her helping of the poor. Although generous to the poor, she was also the one nursing them with her hands. She had a great effect on her husband and was a stark contrast to his more rough nature. She was hugely humble and down to earth and served a life of prayer and servitude to the poor.