One of my favourite places in Lourdes, to pause and pray, is before the statue of Saint Margaret of Scotland. It is located within a canopy of trees, beyond the baths and before one of the bridges. Her presence, in this stunning setting, makes me recognise that the natural and human worlds are spring-boards into the life of God.
One of the last members of the Anglo-Saxon Royal family, Margaret’s life was threatened by the Norman conquest. She sort sanctuary in the court of Malcolm III, King of Scotland, whom she eventually married. They were very happy together. Margaret had a great influence upon the Scottish court and church . She encouraged the foundation of monasteries and hostels for pilgrims and was known for her care of the poor, visiting the sick and putting on large scale meals for them during Advent and Lent.
With her fine taste in clothes, it is particularly poignant to see Margaret holding a crucifix, as she would a mirror, to judge how she appears to others as a reflection of Christ. What mattered to her most was the extent to which she could see his face shinning through her own. Turgot, the Bishop of St. Andrews and Prior of Durham, in his biography wrote that Malcolm “saw that Christ dwelt in her heart… what she rejected he rejected, what she loved, he, for love of her, loved too.”
Although unable to read himself, the King was able to understand the book of Queen Margaret’s life. He was, forever, inspired by it.
Fr Peter Conley