St. Margaret of Scotland icon
February 8th 2013
Ink, watercolor, gold leaf“Like a house built on enduring rock, so the commandments of God will remain firm in the heart of a holy woman.”
~ Antiphon from the Common of Holy Women O God, who 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; though Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
This icon was commissioned by my uncle for a friend of his who is entering the Catholic Church this Easter, and she’s taking St. Margaret of Scotland as her patron saint.
St. Margaret is generally depicted wearing a crown and holding an open book and a cross or crucifix (and sometimes a scepter). I gave her robes of blue and white, for the colors of Scotland's modern flag. A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF THE SAINT:St. Margaret of Scotland (1045 – November 16th 1093)
was an English princess, the daughter of an English prince, Edward the Exile and a Hungarian lady named Agatha. Her father (Edward the Exile) was sent away to Sweden after the Danes conquered much of England. He traveled far abroad, going from Sweden to Russia and stayed for awhile in the city of Kiev. Finally, as a young man (in his early thirties), he helped Andrew I become King of Hungary and as a reward married a lady of noble birth named Agatha. They had several children together, one of them being Margaret. When their children were still young, they left the Hungarian court and traveled back to England since their Edward the Exile had a claim to the now-vacant throne. However, soon after they reached shore he died and his son Edgar Aetheling took up the claim. Harold Godwinson was chosen instead and after the Norman conquest of 1066 the family fled north. They had apparently planned to flee to the continent, but a violent storm blew them off course, and instead they landed on the shores of Scotland. The Scottish king Malcolm III (the same Malcolm in Shakespeare’s Macbeth
) greeted them with great courtesy. A match was arranged between Malcolm and Margaret and the two were married around 1070.
Although Malcolm was significantly older than her and had a very rough temperament, they had a happy marriage, and Margaret had a gentling influence on her husband. They had eight children together and she was well beloved by the Scottish people. She was particularly fond of serving the poor and orphans and would personally feed the poor that came to her every morning. She brought great educational and religious reforms to the country, inspired everyone with her goodness, gentleness and good sense, and rebuilt monasteries and places of learning. In her personal life she was very pious, attended Mass every day, read a great deal of the Lives of the Saints, the Scriptures and other devotional works. Her husband was often away waging war on the Normans to the south, and that was how he met his end. Malcolm III and their eldest son Edward were killed at the Battle of Alnwick on November 13th, 1093. Malcolm was sixty-two at the time. Margaret was already ill, and her courtiers feared bringing her the news for fear that she would grow worse, but the news reached her eventually, and she died three days after her husband and son on November 16th, 1093, at the age of forty-eight. She was canonized by Pope Innocent IV in 1250. The Feast of St. Margaret of Scotland is celebrated on November 16th. O God, who made Saint Margaret of Scotland
wonderful in her outstanding charity towards the poor,
grant that through her intercession and example
we may reflect among all humanity the image of your divine goodness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.