The Pearl of Scotland

Sign at the entrance to South Queensferry, Edinburgh, displaying the arms of the royal burgh.
Sign at the entrance to South Queensferry, Edinburgh, displaying the arms of the royal burgh.

First of all, in regard to King Malcolm: by the help of God she made him most attentive to the works of justice, mercy, almsgiving, and other virtues. From her he learnt how to keep the vigils of the night in constant prayer; she instructed him by her exhortation and example how to pray to God with groanings from the heart and abundance of tears. I was astonished, I confess, at this great miracle of God’s mercy when I perceived in the king such a steady earnestness in his devotion, and I wondered how it was that there could exist in the heart of a man living in the world such an entire sorrow for sin. There was in him a sort of dread of offending one whose life was so venerable; for he could not but perceive from her conduct that Christ dwelt within her; nay, more, he readily obeyed her wishes and prudent counsels in all things. Whatever she refused, he refused also; whatever pleased her, he also loved for the love of her. Hence it was that, although he could not read, he would turn over and examine books which she used either for her devotions or her study; and whenever he heard her say that she was fonder of one of them than the others, this one he too used to look at with special affection, kissing it, and often taking it into his hands. Sometimes he sent for a worker in precious metals, whom he commanded to ornament that volume with gold and gems, and when the work was finished, the king himself used to carry the volume to the queen as a kind proof of his devotion.

Life of St. Margaret, by Turgot, Bishop of St. Andrews, translated from the Latin by William Forbes-Leith, S.J.

Before Thee I Stand

The statue of Our Lady of Walsingham, the Slipper Chapel, Walsingham, Norfolk, England.
The image of Our Lady of Walsingham, the Slipper Chapel (or Chapel of St. Catherine of Alexandria), Walsingham, Norfolk, England.

Memorare, O piissima Virgo Maria, non esse auditum a saeculo, quemquam ad tua currentem praesidia, tua implorantem auxilia, tua petentem suffragia, esse derelictum. Ego tali animatus confidentia, ad te, Virgo Virginum, Mater, curro, ad te venio, coram te gemens peccator assisto. Noli, Mater Verbi, verba mea despicere; sed audi propitia et exaudi. Amen.

From the Raccolta, #339 (S. C. Ind., Dec. 11, 1846; S. P. Ap., Sept. 8, 1935) Encr. Ind. #32.

One of You Go Under the Mould of This Island to Consecrate It

Postcard depicting the ruins of the mediæval abbey on Iona.

Now when Colombcille had made round of all Ireland, and when he had sown faith and belief, and when numerous hosts and been baptized by him, and when he had founded churches and holy dwellings, when he left elders and reliquaries and relics therein, the determination which he had resolved on from the beginning of his life came to his mind, namely, to go into pilgrimage. He then minded to go over sea to preach God’s word to Highlanders and to Britons and Saxons.

So he fared forth on expedition. Forty-two years was his age went he went. Thirty-four he lived in Scotland. Seventy-seven was his full age. And the number that went (with him) was twenty bishops, forty priests, thirty deacons, fifty students; ut dixit—

  1. Forty priests was their number,
    Twenty bishops, a noble strength!
    For the psalmody without work.
    Thirty deacons, fifty boys.

He fared then in happy mood till he came to the stead which to-day is named Hii of Colombcille. On the night of Pentecost he reached it. Two bishops who were biding in the island came to cast him out of it. But God revealed to Colombcille that in truth they were not bishops, whereupon they left the island to him when he told of them their story and what they ought to perform.

Then said Colombcille to his household, ‘It is well for us that our roots should go under earth here;’ and he said to them, ‘It is permitted to you that some one of you go under the mould of this island to consecrate it.’ Odran rose up readily, and this he said: ‘If thou wouldst accept me,’ saith he ‘I am ready for that.’ ‘O Odran’ saith Colombcille ‘thereof shalt thou have the reward, namely, to none shall his request be granted at my grave, unless he shall seek it first of thee.’ Odran then fared to heaven.

Colomb then founded the church of Hii. Thrice fifty monks had he therein for contemplation and sixty for active life, as said (the poet)—

  1. Wondrous the warriors who abode in Hii,
    Thrice fifty in monastic rule,
    With their boats along the sea,
    Three score men a-rowing.

When Colombcille had founded Hii, he fared on his preaching throughout Scotland and Britons and Saxons; and he brought them to faith and belief after many miracles had been wrought by him, after bringing the dead to life out of death.