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November 12, 2006
The Influence of a Woman We often hear jokes about the power of a woman. There is a famous maxim that says, “never underestimate the power of a woman”. This maxim can be interpreted in many ways both for the positive and the negative but it is more often referred to in the negative.
This week, the church remembers the woman who lived up to the positive interpretation of the above maxim. On Thursday, November 16th, we celebrate the feast of St. Margaret of Scotland. Margaret lived only 47 years but she accomplished more in her 47 years than many accomplish in a much longer span of time.
Born in England in 1046, she was the granddaughter of King Edward Ironside. As a member of the royal family she and her family were forced to flee the country during the invasion of William the Conqueror. They eventually headed to Scotland where Malcolm III offered them protection. Malcolm fell in love with Margaret and soon proposed marriage. Margaret initially refused this proposal because she wanted to spend her life dedicated to God in prayer and to works of mercy. Malcolm was persistent and soon won her hand in marriage when Margaret was 23 years old.
Once Margaret had agreed to marry Malcolm she also decided to make the marriage a happy one. As a couple, they brought eight children into the world and the couple was
exceedingly happy in their married life. She was able to be a good wife, thus giving the example of a happy marriage, all the while maintaining her piety and love of God. She did not have to forego one for the other. This, of course, also speaks well for the man she married.
Margaret also had great influence on the Scottish life. She brought some of the finer points of European manners, ceremony and culture to the Court which greatly improved their civilized reputation. She was also instrumental in changing the way the Scottish people worshiped. The language of the Mass was changed to Latin with the intention of unifying the people of Scotland to the rest of Europe. Many believed that this was also an attempt on Margaret’s part to end the bloody wars between England and Scotland.
Margaret worked untiringly to found churches, monasteries and pilgrmage hostels throughout the country of Scotland. Margaret was very pious and cared especially for the poor and the orphans of her country. Under her leadership, she was able to gain a day off on Sunday for the working class.
The story of St. Margaret of Scotland sends a very strong message to the people of the 21st century. Margaret was a happy wife who did not settle for a comfortable life centered on her own desires and well being. She loved her husband, her children, her people and especially her God. She did not settle for the status quo of the times. She lived each day in the circumstances God provided. She tried her best o improve the state of affaris for the poor and uneducated. She was politically, socially, and culturally aware and greatly involved for change. She died young but had lived and full and happy life.
Lorette P. Nault