Discovering Andrew & Margaret - Our Patron Saints

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HOMILY: St Margaret's Pilgrimage in Dunfermline

Hundreds gathered in Dunfermline yesterday (Sunday 18 June) for the St Margaret's Pilgrimage.

The day started with an ecumenical service at Dunfermline Abbey before Holy Mass at St Margaret's Memorial Church in Dunfermline.

To see a photo gallery of the day, click here.

Homily of Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh
St Margaret’s Pilgrimage, 18 June 2023, Dunfermline

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

It is a very great joy to welcome you again to Dunfermline for our Pilgrimage in honour of our great queen, St Margaret.

I’m grateful to Fr Syriac and the people of St Margaret’s parish, including Colin and Amanda, the musicians and singers, the helpers and volunteers, and everyone in Dunfermline for their warm welcome to the town.

I’d like to thank the Reverend Mary Ann Rennie, Minister of Dunfermline Abbey, and her parishioners for their kind welcome this morning to the abbey, where we celebrated an ecumenical service in honour of St Margaret (above).

***

On the 16th of November last year, 2022, the official Feast as you know of St Margaret, many of us were at Dunfermline Abbey to remember the arrival 950 years ago of the first Benedictine monks at Dunfermline, who came to found a priory.

On that happy occasion, in the presence of HRH the Princess Royal, there was also the signing of a Declaration of Friendship, named in honour of St Margaret, and signed by Princess Anne, the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, and myself on behalf of the Catholic Church in Scotland.

The Declaration is an endeavour to recognize and build upon the great progress that has been achieved in the last sixty years, recognizing each other as friends and as brothers and sisters in Christ, in praying and working together for the good of our churches, and in working shoulder to shoulder for the common good of everyone who calls Scotland their home.

The document had originally been described as a declaration of friendship, but I’m happy to say that, in answer to the suggestion of Dr Grant Barclay, a minister of the Church of Scotland, the document is now called the Saint Margaret Declaration.

Nevertheless, the original intention – that it be a declaration of friendship – still stands.

This is partly because an important part of the document is an attempt to recognize together all that we hold in common.

Both Pope St John Paul II and the late Pope Benedict are on record as saying that we have more in common with the churches of the Reformation than that which divides us from them.

I heard these words said in London in 2010, and I have reflected on them ever since.

So, about three years ago, I approached the then Moderator, Lord Jim Wallace, and the senior leadership in the Church of Scotland of the time, and they were very willing to discuss what such a declaration of might look like.

I received the blessing of our own bishops to carry out this dialogue, and within about a year, the draft document was ready.

It was warmly welcomed by our bishops and it was also warmly welcomed at the General Assembly of Scotland in the summer of 2022.

One of the main foundations for it is a common will to preserve and promote and treasure our Christian heritage in this country, which goes back all the way to at least Saint Ninian in the far off fourth century, A.D. The declaration mentions St Ninian, St Columba of Iona, and St Margaret by name.

With our brothers and sisters in the Church of Scotland and the Episcopal Church, we have a shared admiration of who she was and what she did for our country, and that is not nothing.

Something of our common understanding of who she is, and that we share with her brothers and sisters of the Reformation churches, can be seen in our three readings today.

In the first reading from the Book of Proverbs, we see the picture of an ideal wife and mother.

Too often these days we find that kind of idea undermined, or knocked or belittled by people who think that being a wife, and being a mother, is something that is either far too difficult on the one hand, all the way through to being something outmoded or unnecessary in a modern and flexible society.

Margaret, however, is a strong and enduring example of someone who shows not only how well it can work, but how it can be the central nucleus in a full and fulfilling Christian life, and we can see in her biography, written by her Confessor just after she died, that she was flesh and blood too, a real wife and mother.

She was no plaster icon on a pillar; she was real, a flesh and blood saint.

In the second reading, we see the second great component of the character of Saint Margaret.

Through St Paul’s description of the higher gifts, we can see that how it all applies to Margaret, who also was “ambitious for the higher gifts”. She was deeply motivated by her love of Jesus Christ.

As Paul says, love is the best and highest element in our Christian discipleship.

Paul praises faith, hope, and love and compares them - but he declares boldly that the greatest of these great gifts is love; and Saint Margaret is a clear and vivid example of a consistent, hard-working, energetic love, through her personal attachment to people, especially the poor.

And the third component of her character that we see today comes from the Gospel of Matthew.

There our Lord says, if you listen to my words, and you act on them, you will be someone who built their house on rock.  Rain fell, floods came, the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, it was built on rock.

This is a parable that St Margaret took to heart.

There are many pictures of Saint Margaret.  Sometimes she is seen with a crucifix, because she called of one near the end of her life.

Sometimes she’s seen with a Book of the Gospels, because we know she carried one with her always, and it still exists to this day, and is kept in the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

But there is a third kind of image of her, including one in my own chapel in Edinburgh, where is Saint Margaret stands with a crown on her head and with a building cradled in her arms.

When we imagine her cradling a building in her arms, this is one image that has always made sense to me, that I add to the others.

To see her imagined carrying a building in her arms suggests Margaret as a builder; and not just a builder, but as a founder of churches. Now, Margaret didn’t found the Church in Scotland, its presence predates her arrival here by a good 600 years.

That being said, what she did do was to help “re-found” or re-imagine, or re-invigorate the Church here.  She renewed it. She refreshed it, and she did so with great energy.

She was also clearing a path, as it were, for some things that she didn’t even live to see, but that were important and a direct consequence of what she did in her lifetime.

Her sons, starting with King Saint David I of Scotland, were in an excellent position after her death to invite many European monastic communities that were blossoming everywhere in Western Europe to come also to Scotland, and much of their presence and their heritage can still be seen today, particularly in the border country in our own Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh.

Many foundations, priories and parishes and other foundations were the consequence of the work that Margaret did for the strengthening of the faith in our land.

Margaret worked with energy and love for her family, her country, and her church.  She had the humility and patience to prepare the way for others to complete the tasks begun by her.

And she did it with great heart, with great love.  As we venerate her memory and her relics here, we pray again today for our families, our nation, our leaders, and our church.

May St Margaret’s example and prayers strengthen us in God’s service today and always.

Thank you for joining us today, and God bless you!

Join us for St Margaret's Pilgrimage in Dunfermline

The St Margaret's Pilgrimage 2023 will take place in Dunfermline on Sunday 18 June.

The day features:

Archbishop Cushley said: "The pilgrimage is a chance to give thanks to God for the wonderful example of St Margaret, whose life of faith, charity and leadership continues to inspire people today.

Holy Mass at St Margaret's Church in East Port will be at 2:30pm (image from 2019 pilgrimage).

"It's always special for us to gather together where she lived and did the works of piety that have become renowned across the centuries. I hope to see many of you in Dunfermline on Sunday 18 June for its return."

The pilgrimage has a rich history in Dunfermline and returns after a break of three years due to the Covid pandemic.

There will be an opportunity to receive a blessing with a first class relic of St Margaret after the Mass at St Margaret's in East Port.

Guests include the Provost of Fife Jim Leishman and The Right Rev Dr Rev Iain Greenshields, the current Moderator of the Church of Scotland who is minister at St Margaret's Church in Touch, Dunfemline.

Also attending is László Kálmán, the Consul General of Hungary and representatives of the Knights of St Columba, the Knights of Malta and St Margaret's Guild.

Pupils from Holy Name Primary (Oakley), St Margaret's Primary and St Columba's Secondary (both Dunfermline) will contribute to the Mass.

*Please note, there is no street procession this year.

Accessibility and Seating

The Mass is at 2:30pm, please be seated by 2:15pm. Wheelchair seating is at the back left of Church. Stewards will be in attendance to help.

Streaming

The Mass will be streamed from the church's website here.

Getting there

Car: There is a free car park in Leys Park Road near St Margaret's Church (see below map). The church car park is available only for dropping off those with mobility issues. Council car parks are free until 1pm on Sunday.

Train: Dunfermline Town Train Station is a five to ten minute walk from St Margaret's Church and Dunfermline Abbey.

Bus: Dunfermline Bus Station is a five to ten minute walk from St Margaret's Church and a five minute walk from Dunfermline Abbey.

Maps

St Margaret's Pilgrimage 2023

The St Margaret's Pilgrimage 2023 will take place in Dunfermline on Sunday 18 June.

The day features:

There will be an opportunity to receive a blessing with a first class relic of St Margaret after the Mass at St Margaret's in East Port.

Guests include the Provost of Fife Jim Leishman and The Right Rev Dr Rev Iain Greenshields, the current Moderator of the Church of Scotland who is minister at St Margaret's Church in Touch, Dunfemline.

Also attending is László Kálmán, the Consul General of Hungary and representatives of the Knights of St Columba, the Knights of Malta and St Margaret's Guild.

Pupils from Holy Name Primary (Oakley), St Margaret's Primary and St Columba's Secondary (both Dunfermline) will contribute to the Mass.

*Please note, there is no street procession this year.

Accessibility and Seating

The Mass is at 2:30pm, please be seated by 2:15pm. Wheelchair seating is at the back left of Church. Stewards will be in attendance to help.

Streaming

The Mass will be streamed from the church's website here.

Getting there

Car: There is a free car park in Leys Park Road near St Margaret's Church (see below map). The church car park is available only for dropping off those with mobility issues. Council car parks are free until 1pm on Sunday.

Train: Dunfermline Town Train Station is a five to ten minute walk from St Margaret's Church and Dunfermline Abbey.

Bus: Dunfermline Bus Station is a five to ten minute walk from St Margaret's Church and a five minute walk from Dunfermline Abbey.

Maps

Students visit Edinburgh for holy relic of St Margaret

Archbishop Cushley welcomed students from the Catholic Society of St Andrews University today (Thursday 2 October) to collect a holy relic of St Margaret.

They visited St Margaret's Chapel at the Gillis Centre, Edinburgh, with university chaplain Fr Michael John Galbraith.

Students venerate the relic of St Margaret with Fr Michael John Galbraith.

He said: "When I heard the relics were available, I jumped at the chance because our Canmore Chaplaincy is dedictated to St Margaret.

"The students here today are very involved in life at the chaplaincy and very devout in their own faith - they are delighted to visit Edinburgh and receive the relic of St Margaret, which will be displayed for veneration at the Canmore chaplaincy at the university."

Archbishop Cushley told students about the background of the relics of St Margaret.

Maria Alexandra Vlachogiani, a third year Maths student, said: "A lot of Christians find their home at the chaplaincy in St Andrews and Fr Michael John is always there to support us."

The Archdiocese was approached by parishes dedicated to St Margaret after the relic fragmented while being removed from its reliquary at St Margaret's Church in Dunfermline in 2019.

The monstrance holding the relic of St Margaret and the official certificate confirming its authenticity.

That meant smaller relics were made available and parishes from Scotland and further afield (including Chile) petitioned the Archdiocese to entrust a relic for veneration by the faithful there. The smaller relics are from the scapular bone of the Saint.

The students in the main picture are Ella Balet, Blake Boehne, Veronica Harris, Christopher Levesque, Jovana Joseph, Matthew Matisz, Hannah Menezes, Jarrett Miller and Maria Alexandra Vlachogiani.

Find out more about the Canmore Catholic Chaplaincy at https://www.canmorecatholicchaplaincy.com or follow them on Facebook.

Pilgrims get chance to celebrate saint online this Sunday

St Margaret's Pilgrimage may have been cancelled, but churches in Dunfermline have got together to celebrate the saint online this Sunday.

A special ecumenical service will be available on Facebook and YouTube at 3pm, recorded at the Abbey Church in the historic West Fife town.

Fr Chris Heenan of St Margaret's Memorial Church, who leads the organisation of the annual pilgrimage, said: "I hope this will be a consolation for all the pilgrims who would have visited our town to mark the life of this extraordinary Saint.

"It's a lovely service, with good music, and it was great to collaborate with others to make it happen."

'New bonds'

Rev MaryAnn Rennie, Minister at the Abbey Church of Dunfermline, said: “Our congregations have formed new bonds through this annual celebration of the life of St Margaret and we felt it would be good to bring people together again online, even if we cannot be physically present together.

“A special pre-recorded service, including contributions from St Margaret’s RC Memorial Church, Holy Trinity Church and the Abbey Church of Dunfermline, will be broadcast online on YouTube and Facebook Live at 3pm on Sunday afternoon (07 June ) – which coincides with when the pilgrims would have entered St Margaret’s RC Memorial Church."

"The service includes prayers and readings read by members of all three congregations and a song about Margaret written by Wayne Pearce, minister of Edzell Lethnot Glenesk linked with Fern Careston Menmuir, and will bring all people together with an interest in the life of this saint, whose life and faith was firmly rooted in Dunfermline.”

Every June hundreds of people flock to Dunfermline to take part in the pilgrimage honouring the life of St Margaret, who lived in the Fife town throughout her reign in the 11th century and who was known for her piety and charity. A procession taks place through the town centre with a relic of the saint (main picture).

Last year a special ecumenical service opened the day at Dunfermline Abbey, the home of an outdoor shrine to St Margaret, who lived on the site.

The service will be broadcast at 3pm on Sunday 07 June on the Facebook page of St Margaret's Memorial Church and on Dunfermline Abbey's YouTube channel.

 

 

Pilgrims celebrate St Margaret in Dunfermline

Hundreds of pilgrims gathered in Dunfermline in Fife for the annual St Margaret's Pilgrimage on Sunday, 2 June.

Jean MacDonald, a parishioner at St Patrick's Church in Kilsyth, said: "Our parish priest, Father Daniel Doherty, drove the minibus to bring us up here today. It's nice to  see all the school children here as well - they are the future of the Church."

Her friend Patricia Campbell, who was attending the pilgrimage for the fourth time, added: "I came to enjoy the atmosphere. We've already visited St Margaret's Cave, it's very emotional."

Sam Begbie, from St Margaret's Church in Clydebank, said: "We're taking part in this procession to represent our parish. It's nice for the younger ones to see this kind of activity within the faith."

Cathie Keating, of Holy Cross Church in Croy, said: "I wanted to be part of the pilgrimage. I'm very proud to be Scottish and I wouldn't wanted to have missed it. It's my first time, and my oldest daughter's Confirmation name is Margaret of Scotland."

During the day pilgrims explored the numerous historic sites across the Fife town that are associated with St Margaret, Queen of Scots (1045-93).

Archbishop Leo Cushley led the procession through the town centre, carrying the holy relics of the saint, before pilgrims gathered for Holy Mass at St Margaret's RC Memorial Church.

In his homily, Archbishop Cushley praised the example of St Margaret's Christian action.

"She had the fire of someone newly converted to the faith and she put that faith into practice," he said, "In a time rougher than ours she achieved her goals with skill, energy and determination.

"But she did so, always informed by a strong faith in Christ and his power to save her, her family, and her adopted nation."

Following Holy Mass, many pilgrims had the opportunity to receive a blessing with the relic of St Margaret. To read the Archbishop's homily in full click here.

Celebrity support for St Margaret’s Pilgrimage 2019

Popular singer-songwriter Barbara Dickson has thrown her support behind the St Margaret’s Pilgrimage 2019 which will take place in her home town of Dunfermline, Fife, this Sunday, 2 June.

“I feel the event is of such importance to Dunfermline and Scotland, both spiritually and culturally," said Barbara, 30 May.

“I’m a native of the town and I’ve wanted to go for a long time...St Margaret is one of the most important women in Scottish history and her influence is still felt.”

The St Margaret's Pilgrimage 2019 promises to be a great day out for the family with the highlight of the event being the procession of the holy relic of St Margaret (1045-93) starting from the Louise Carnegie Gates at Pittencrieff Park at 2:15pm and making its way towards St Margaret’s Church for Holy Mass at 3pm. Pilgrims will be led through the streets by Lochgelly Brass Band and local pipers. The principle celebrant at Holy Mass will be Archbishop Leo Cushley. Meanwhile, Barbara Dickson will read a passage from Sacred Scripture. Following Mass, pilgrims are invited to receive the blessing of the relic.

“It will be an opportunity for us all to pray together, to pray for our country, our families and friends and to pray for the peace and prosperity of our land,” said Archbishop Cushley.

Notably, this year's pilgrimage will begin with a ecumenical service at Dunfermline Abbey which will be led by Archbishop Cushley along with the Reverend MaryAnn Rennie, Church of Scotland Minister of Dunfermline Abbey, and Father Christopher Heenan, parish priest at St Margaret’s Church.

“I’m delighted that St Margaret’s Pilgrimage will begin with a joint service in the Abbey," said Father Heenan, "Margaret is an exceptionally important figure to Dunfermline as well as the whole of Scotland so it is fitting that a celebration of her life is as inclusive as possible.”

Throughout the day, guides from Discover Dunfermline Tours will also be on hand to take people to visit local sites associated with St Margaret. Suitable for families and children, the tour will last around an hour and will include a visit to St Margaret’s shrine at the east end of Dunfermline Abbey, the base of Malcolm’s Tower, where Margaret and the royal household lived, and St Margaret’s Cave, which was her private place for prayer. For more information go to, https://stmargaretsdunfermline.co.uk/