She was born in Hungary (1046), where her father was living in exile, and likewise spent her childhood there as an unusually devout and pious girl. In the course of time she went to England, when her father was called to high office in his fatherland by his uncle, King St. Edward III. Fortune, however, soon reversed itself again (Margaret's father died suddenly in 1057), and upon leaving England a mighty storm — or better, divine Providence — brought her to the shores of Scotland. Upon instructions from her mother, Margaret married Malcolm III, king of Scotland, in 1069. The country was blessed by her holy life and by her deeds of charity for the next thirty years. Her eight children she zealously trained in the practice of Christian virtues.
In the midst of royal splendor Margaret chastised her flesh by mortification and vigils and passed the greater part of the night in devout prayer. Her most remarkable virtue was love of neighbor, particularly love toward the poor. Her alms supported countless unfortunates; daily she provided food for three hundred and shared in the work of serving them personally, washing their feet and kissing their wounds.
—Excerpted from the Roman Breviary
Queen Margaret of Scotland is the secondary patroness of Scotland. Margaret's copy of the Gospels is preserved in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University.
Patron: Death of children; large families; learning; queens; Scotland; widows.
Symbols: Black cross; sceptre and book; hospital.
Often portrayed as: queen, often carrying a black cross, dispensing gifts to the poor.