November 16th is the feast day of Margaret of Scotland. According the good people at Wikipedia, Margaret was the daughter of the English prince Edward in Exile. While she was born in Hungary the family returned to England as he father was a possible successor the King Edward the Confessor. Her brother Edgar was for a very short time King of England. After the Norman defeat she and her mother fled and took refuge from Malcolm III King of Scotland. She eventually married Malcolm and became his Queen Consort. Margaret is an interesting figure. I became more interested in her life after visiting Edinburgh earlier this year. One of interesting little oddities of our summer travail in the UK was the fact that everywhere we visited we saw a wedding in progress. Iona, Glasgow, London, New Lanark and Edinburgh all offered us a bride and groom with plenty of tartan and a variety of colours in the kilts. While visiting Edinburgh Castle we saw a wedding about to take place.
It was impressive that the car could make its way to the top of that steep hill. More impressive was the fact that all those kilts and that wedding dress did not blow up in those gale force winds that blew us to and fro as we moved about the castle. Where would the consecration of this couple’s love take place? The wedding moved into the tiniest chapel that I had ever seen. After the wedding had ended we took a look inside. This couples love was celebrated in the tiny Chapel that was named St. Margaret’s Chapel.
This little Chapel is the oldest building in Edinburgh and was built by her youngest son David around 1130. He erected this little chapel in honour of his mother who was known to be deeply religious. This little house of prayer is very special. While it is tiny, ten feet by 16 feet, it leave a huge impression on the soul. There is no doubt that this little place of prayer is holy ground.
I could have stayed in that holy space, atop the great hill with the wind howling about me for hours. I could sense the sacredness of the place. I did not know much about Margret until that day at Edinburgh Castle. I did some reading online afterward. I was really touched by the story of a woman who died three days after learning of her son and husband’s demise. She died of a broken heart. Her story really speaks to the devastating grief of a wife and mother. When you realize that this little chapel was a tribute to this woman from her youngest son, who became King David, it also becomes evident the love that she garnered from her children. Those moments on that little bench were so special. It strikes me more now, after the moment, that a place of such beauty was such a fitting tribute from a son to his deceased mother. Fitting because we are told that Margaret was always a woman of great faith.
I share this story today to no real end, other than to share an experience that I had this year of a tremendous place of faith. I see today as a great time to share that experience – since it is Margaret’s day. The Chapel was small and modest. But it is so sacred and full of history. That history is rooted in love …Margaret’s love for God from her childhood to death, Malcolm’s love for Margaret in marrying her and protecting her…Margaret’s love for her family in dying from a broken heart …David’s love for his mother in erecting chapel in her name that would stand to be the oldest building in Edinburgh today. This was and it is a place of Love.
O GOD, who called your servant Margaret to an earthly throne that she might advance your heavenly kingdom, and gifted her with zeal for the Church and for charity towards others: Mercifully grant that we who commemorate her example may be fruitful in good works, and attain to the glorious fellowship of your saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.