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Friday, November 30, 2012

Saints of Scotland.....

make a major debut in this month of November. First, we meet a pious queen from an exiled royal family who managed to tame her brutish husband and his rowdy court. Second, we learn about the origin of the Scottish saltire and how it is connected to a Jewish fisherman who died on an X-shaped cross. Take a look:

St. Margaret of Scotland

     St. Margaret was an Anglo-Saxon princess who was raised in the court of St. Edward the Confessor in England. When William the Conqueror invaded in 1066, she and her family intended to sail to mainland Europe and take refuge there. But a storm blew their ship off course, and they landed in Scotland instead. They were rescued by King Malcolm III, who fell madly in love with the beautiful young Margaret and subsequently married her.

    Although the king could be rough and violent, Margaret's pious and refined nature softened his attitude towards life. She had a positive effect on the Scottish court, cultivating holiness and gentility among the courtiers. She also inspired her husband to show clemency to captured Englishmen who became prisoners during various Anglo-Scottish conflicts. Her private life was replete with acts of charity and constant prayer. 
   Margaret founded several churches, including the Abbey of Dunfermline which was built to enshrine her greatest treasure, a relic of the true cross. She also was known to sew beautiful priest's vestments with her own hands. A synod was held with her support, and various matters were settled including a regulation of Lenten fasting and reception of Easter Communion.

    She and her husband had six sons and two daughters. Her youngest son became King David I of Scotland, and her daughter, Edith, became queen of England when she married King Henry I of England. Both were renowned for their piety and saintly conduct.

    As Margaret lay on her death-bed, she learned that her husband and son, Edward, had been killed in yet another war with England. In response, she murmured:  "I thank You, Almighty God, for sending me so great a sorrow to purify me from my sins." She was buried at the high altar at Dunfermline, and her feast is celebrated on November 16th. She is a beneficial advocate for Anglo-Scottish relations.

St. Andrew the Apostle

     According to the New Testament, St. Andrew was the brother of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles. Both were fishermen in the region of Galilee in Judea. Andrew was originally a disciple of St. John the Baptist, but when John pointed out Jesus of Nazareth as "the Lamb of God", Andrew became the first follower of Our Lord. He promptly inducted his brother, Simon Peter, into the ranks of the faithful ("We Have A Pope!" ;-). He is also depicted as the one who lead the boy with the loaves and fishes to Jesus, providing the means for the miracle of multiplication.

    Tradition states that after the death and resurrection of Christ, Andrew traveled to Asia Minor and Greece as a missionary. He was arrested by the Roman authorities and condemned to death, making him one of the earliest martyrs of the Christian Church. He was crucified on an X-shaped cross to which he was tied instead of being nailed. Hence, he became famous not so much for his role as a fisher of fish, but rather as a fisher of men.

    Some time in the 4th century, St. Rule is said to have taken some bodily relics of St. Andrew from Constantinople to a Pictish settlement on the east coast of Scotland ("the ends of the earth", as far as Rule was concerned!) Like the relics of Margaret of Scotland, Andrew's remains in Scotland were presumably destroyed during the Protestant Reformation. However, other relics from mainland Europe which supposedly belonged to St. Andrew were sent to the Catholic Scottish community during the 19th and 20th centuries to make up for loss. 

    The origin of the St. Andrew's Cross design, which graces both the Scottish Saltire flag and the Union Jack, dates back to a legend told about the Battle of Athelstanford between the Picts/Scots and the Northumbrians in 832, A.D. The Pictish leader, Angus McFergus, had a dream of the saint before the encounter, and during the battle, an X-shaped cross appeared in the sky, encouraging the Picts/Scots to drive the Northumbrians from the field. From that time on, the image of a white X on a blue background became the banner of the Scottish nation. The feast of St. Andrew is celebrated on November 30th. He is patron saint of Scotland, Russia, and Greece.

St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Andrew the Apostle, Ora Pro Nobis!!!

St. Margaret of Scotland

St. Andrew the Apostle



  1. Good stuff! Or, perhaps I should say Good News!


    - Mack in Texas

  2. You're most welcome, Mack! And your being of Scottish heritage and everyone, these saints must have special meaning to you!