Today is the feast of my patron saint, Saint Margaret of Scotland.
Margaret was the daughter of King Edward the Exile of England. After her father's death, she fled from England; she was received by Malcolm III of Scotland, who later married her. As queen, Margaret convoked a synod which made regulations concerning the Lenten fast, Easter Communion, and marriage laws. She founded several churches, and was constantly engaged in prayer and pious practices.
When I converted to the Church in 1984, I pored over a mini Butler to find just the right saint. Finally, I settled on this woman for a few reasons: she was lay, she had many children, and she died shortly after her husband (why stick around?). She also lived in a different land from where she was born. Small point, but nostalgically important then (and still).
When the time came for my entrance into the Church, I announced I had chosen my "name," at which the priest receiving me was perplexed. "We don't do that any more," was his less-than-gracious reply. Remember, this was pre-RCIA and "off-season." (I was slipping into the Church in February because I wanted to have everything completed before my wedding.) We tussled, and then compromised. He would enter "Margaret" as my middle name.
Obviously, I have since had children confirmed -- children who were asked to choose patron saints -- and it was a big deal. But, for the record, dear Margaret is a part of my paperwork ... somewhere.
It is also the feast of Saint Gertrude (the Great!) and thus the name day of a fine woman who passed away in 2009. Mothers matter. And this mother (like Margaret) made a great difference:
She had appeared in vibrant health just two months ago at the celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the priestly ordination of her son and she was at the time received in an audience by Pope Benedict XVI.
The Italian writer Alessandra Borghese, a friend of don Georg, in an article published four months ago, on June 11, in Gente, said that Msgr. Georg's relationship with his mother was "decisive and fundamental" for his priestly vocation, and that this relationship was then still "extremely close."
In an interview two years ago, Msgr. Georg said his mother was "a woman who above all knew how to give answers to the questions of her children."
I imagine, according to custom, she was buried with the linen cloth that wrapped the hands of her son at his ordination -- her son who was subsequently named an Archbishop. (I know one dear woman whose eyes positively sparkled when she pondered that detail of her own imminent passing!) Surely, the Church's calendar is filled with feasts dedicated to strong women -- on whom the integrity of our culture depends. Happy feast day to all Margarets and Gertrudes -- and their spiritual daughters!
[The above portion came from the regular newsletter offered by Robert Moynihan, editor of Inside the Vatican. Always informative and well-written, I highly recommend it -- here.]