Technical problems with Google indexing have made it desirable to re-post all of our material. I hope you will find interest in reflecting with me, on the history of the Church over the centuries and during the life of the Blog which began on 14th December 2009.  This post first appeared on 25th January 2010.

Stolen for Generations

The Story of St Margaret’s Chapel, Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh is a tough, beautiful and ancient city dominated by its Castle. And the Castle, the City and their Country are dominated by the English Crown (Devolution notwithstanding). But it wasn’t always so.

Yes, Edinburgh Castle is ancient, and in the heart of the Castle is a stolen Catholic Church – St. Margaret’s Chapel – the oldest building in Edinburgh.
St.Margaret's Chapel within the Castle walls.

In the early days of its independent life, King David I (A.D. 1084 – 1153) ruled Scotland. He is regarded by scholars both ancient and modern, as a truly pious King, so devoted to the Faith and to good works, that in his time he brought into being more than a dozen new monasteries. One of the greatest of these is the Cistercian Abbey of Melrose founded in A.D. 1137. Its noble ruins still inspire Faith almost 900 years later.

The great St. Aelred of Rievaulx, in his eulogy for King David, praised his justice and piety, and stated: “the whole barbarity of that nation was softened…………as if, forgetting their natural fierceness, they submitted their necks to the laws which the royal gentleness dictated.”

King David’s piety no doubt flowed from the influence of his mother, the holy Queen Margaret (1045 – 16/11/1093). She was born in Hungary and was the niece of St. Edward the Confessor. She married King Malcolm III of Scotland, a widower, when in her early twenties and they had six sons and two daughters. She was canonized by Pope Innocent IV having regard for her personal sanctity, her fidelity to the Church, her religious reform efforts and her remarkable works of charity. A small example of the latter was her custom of serving the poor and orphans before she would take her own meals. Her Feast is celebrated on 16th November.

In honour of his saintly mother, in A.D. 1130, King David built on a small eminence in the heart of Edinburgh Castle, high above the capital, a beautifully simple Chapel. It is now, as we have said, the oldest building in Edinburgh. It is most moving to reflect that Holy Mass was offered in this Royal Chapel for approx 400 years until the Protestant Deformation of the Church led to the Chapel’s desecration and use as a gunpowder store (!) for about 200 years. It is now available as a wedding chapel on a commercial basis!

Our December Issue spoke of the divine power of each Mass for good and the sad evil influence of each abuse to do evil. We know that the evil done by those who stole St. Margaret’s Chapel and desecrated it still goes on, but it is incomparably overmatched by the glorious good done by any ONE of the thousands of Holy Masses celebrated at that altar.

Nevertheless, it is painful to see such a beautiful, hallowed and noble place and such a gesture of fidelity, desecrated, and its altar covered by an alien cloth at the hands of the Deformers of the Church. St Margaret’s Chapel has been stolen for generations.

Ironically, those who stole our churches in Scotland had their entire Country, and Throne stolen from them by the English. But their loss of the Faith was far greater and more significant than the loss of their Country and self-respect



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