Adventures in Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy and science of spirit. We are one you and I; are you curious why?..


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Hari OM

Story-day is for cultural exploration, puraanas and parables and finding out about leading lights in spiritual philosophy.

St Margaret, Queen of Scotland

The princess Margaret of Wessex was born in Hungary, daughter of the exiled Edward of England. Edward had been exiled by Danish invader, Canute, when still very young and he spent much time in Sweden then on to Hungary. Margaret and her siblings grew up in Hungary under a strong religious ethos. She would have been about 10 or 12 years of age when her father was recalled to England as potential for his taking the throne on the death of Edward the Confessor. There was all the usual dastardly and dark intrigue which goes with such stories and it culminated in the death of Edward and the need for Margaret, her mother and siblings, to escape from London. They headed North.

According to tradition, the widowed mother, 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. 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. The couple had six sons and two daughters from their union.

Margaret is considered to have had a civilizing influence on her husband and the Scots in general. She instigated religious reform, striving to make the worship and practices of the Church in Scotland conform to those of Rome. She also worked to bring the Scottish Church practice in line with that of the continental church of her childhood. Due to these achievements, she was considered an exemplar of the "just ruler". (Her youngest son, later David I - also was canonised.) Queen Margaret is depicted widely as a strong, pure, noble character, who had very great influence over her husband, and through him over Scottish history, especially in it ecclesiastical aspects. Her religion, which was genuine and intense, was of the newest Roman style; and to her are attributed a number of reforms in the Church of Scotland.

She attended to charitable works, serving orphans and the poor every day before she ate, and washing the feet of the poor in imitation of Christ. She rose at midnight every night to attend church services. She invited the Benedictine order to establish a monastery at Dunfermline in Fife in 1072, and established ferries at Queensferry and North Berwick to assist pilgrims journeying from South of the Firth of Forth to St. Andrews in Fife. A cave on the banks of the Tower Burn in Dunfermline was used by her as a place of devotion and prayer. Amongst her other deeds, Margaret also instigated the restoration of the monastery at Iona. 

In her private life, Margaret was as devout as she was in her public duties. She spent much of her time in prayer, devotional reading and ecclesiastical embroidery. Malcolm seems to have been largely ignorant of the long-term effects of Margaret's endeavours, not being especially religious himself. He was content for her to pursue her reforms as she wished, a testament to the strength and affection inherent in their marriage.

This bond is further emphasised by the fact that Margaret, weakened by illness from long years of physical austerity and fasting, on hearing of her husband and elder son's death in battle, also passed away, the news too much for her to bear.

Margaret was canonised in the year 1250 by Innocent IV, for her personal commitment, for her religious reform and for her charity. Her feast day is November 16th. The key examples set by Margaret were that she never expected anyone to practice anything she did not do herself; that faith sustains one through much; that charity and the service of all, regardless of status, is the noble act of a spiritual being.

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