Queen of Scotland
Saint Margaret’s name signifies pearl, a fitting name, says Theodoric, her confessor and her first biographer, for one such as she. Her soul was like a precious pearl; a life spent amidst the luxury of a royal court never dimmed its luster or estranged it from Him who had bought it with His blood. She was the granddaughter of an English king; in 1070 she became the bride of Malcolm of Scotland, thereafter reigning as Queen until her death in 1093.
How did she become a Saint in a position where sanctity is so difficult? First, she burned with zeal for the house of God. She built churches and monasteries; she occupied herself by making vestments; she could not rest until she saw the laws of God and His Church observed throughout her realm. Next, amid a thousand cares, she found time to converse with God, ordering her piety with such sweetness and discretion that she won her husband to sanctity like her own. He would rise at night to pray with her; he loved to kiss the holy books she used, and sometimes would take them away with him, bringing them back later to his wife covered with jewels. Lastly, despite Saint Margaret’s great virtue, she wept constantly over her sins and begged her confessor to correct her faults.
Saint Margaret did not neglect her duties in the world even if she was not of the world. God blessed this marriage with eight children, six princes and two princesses who did not fail to respond to their mother’s teaching and examples. Never was there a better mother; she spared no pains in their education, and their sanctity was the fruit of her prudence and her zeal. And never was there a better queen. She was the most trusted counselor of her husband, who always found her counsels of great utility, and she labored with him for the spiritual and material improvement of the land. Malcolm, after having pacified his domains for several years, saw to the building of the cathedral of Durham and founded a monastery at Dumfermlin.
Living in the midst of all the world’s pleasures, Saint Margaret sighed for the true homeland and viewed death as a release. On her deathbed she learned that her husband and their eldest son had been slain in battle. She thanked God for sending this last affliction as a penance for her sins. After receiving Holy Viaticum, she repeated the prayer from the Missal, O Lord Jesus Christ, who by Thy death didst give life to the world, deliver me. And at the words deliver me, says her biographer, her soul took flight to Christ, in 1093, in her forty-seventh year.
Reflection. All perfection consists in keeping a guard upon the heart. Wherever we are, we can make a solitude in our hearts, detach ourselves from the world, and converse familiarly with God, as Saint Margaret did.
Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 6; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints, and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).