Margaret was born about the year 1045. Her father was the English Prince Edward, the son of Edmund Ironside. He was in exile at the time and had married a German princess, probably a niece of the wife of Saint Stephen, the king of Hungary. So Margaret was brought up in the Hungarian royal court and she must have gained the insight into just and saintly rule by watching Saint Stephen.
When she travelled to England at the age of about twelve it was to the court of another saint, Edward the Confessor. With the Norman Conquest in 1066, Margaret and her mother, with her brother and her sister, were again exiled, and sought refuge in Scotland. The Scottish king, Malcolm Canmore, received the exiles kindly.
Malcolm Canmore, whose name means ‘Big Head’ or ‘The Great Ruler’ , was a powerful and able king. He fell in love with the young Margaret and eventually persuaded her to marry him (she had wanted to enter a convent). Their life together is described in some detail in a memoir, probably written by Margaret’s confessor Turgot, later the Bishop of Saint Andrew’s. It is an enchanting story of the impact of a young woman of wisdom and holiness upon a husband whose background was much rougher and less educated, but who aspired towards the holiness of his wife.
Margaret spent much of her time and money on works of charity. Her personal attending of the poor, the aged, the orphans and the sick were so well known that they are represented by the plate of scones which she holds in her statue. She is always portrayed with her Gospel Book to show her reverence for Scripture - her book made a miraculous survival from the sea and can still be seen in the Bodleian Library. She was an admirable mother who helped to solve the problems facing the Church in Scotland.
She died in Edinburgh Castle at a time when all that she had worked for seemed lost; her husband was killed in battle when rebel forces were attacking Edinburgh. But three of her sons succeeded the throne in succession. They continued their mother’s work. One of her sons (David I) encouraged the foundation of Cambuskenneth Abbey in or about 1140. It was originally known as the Abbey of Saint Mary of Stirling and gave its name to Saint Mary’s Wynd, the major street leading down the hill from the royal residences in Stirling Castle to the abbey. The monks approached the town through Friars Gate and Friars Street.
Margaret was canonised in 1250. Her feast is kept on November 16th when there is a special Mass in her honour at our church in Stirling, and our congregation have a party.