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Miracles in Battles - 6

Queen Margaret of Scotland Gives Timely
Assistance from Heaven

Hugh O'Reilly
There are many well known stories of warrior Saints like St. James – the great Santiago – intervening from Heaven on behalf of the Spanish forces. For, as on earth he preached to convert a people, from Heaven he fights to preserve the Holy Faith in the country where he labored.

From the Book of Pluscarden comes a less known legend where the Scottish Queen St. Margaret (1045-1093) with her Royal consort King Malcolm and three sons – each of whom wore the crown of Scotland – comes to assist her beloved adopted homeland in the crucial Battle of Largs in 1263.

After this decisive battle, the Vikings never again attacked Scotland.

In the year 1263, the King of Norway Hacoc landed in Scotland at Conyngham with a very great host of warriors. The Scots assembled their forces against him and, under the command of Alexander Steward, made ready to battle to defend their land.

But it came to pass at that time that a certain knight named John de Wemyss dreamt that he went into the Church of the Blessed Queen Margaret of Scotland at Dunfermline. In it he saw a Queen coming clad in gorgeous apparel of gold, wearing a crown on her head. And with her was a most comely King arrayed in bright armor and wearing a most costly crown on his helmet. Three other Kings, equally clad in royal robes and most gorgeously armed, accompanied the Royal Pair.

vision queen margaret

A dream of Queen Margaret and King Malcolm and a promise to assist

The lady herself was leading the first King by the right hand, keeping step with him, while the others followed step by step one after the other. So, when the said knight beheld them, he marveled and, kneeling down with becoming reverence, said: "O glorious lady, I beseech thee, deign to show me who thou art, and who are these who accompany thee, and whither thou are bound."

Said she: "I am Margaret Queen of Scotland. He whom I lead by the hand is my illustrious husband King Malcolm. The others who follow are my sons, all Kings of this realm. And we are hastening to a place called Largs to defend our country against the snare of the enemy, and, God granting us grace, we shall gain the victory over that tyrant King who is striving wrongfully to invade our realm and subdue it unto him. For, as thou knowest, I have had this realm entrusted to me and my heirs forever by God."

Then, the knight said: "O most glorious lady, give a token whereby I may know this and that others may believe me."

"Go," she said, "to the church of my burial and thou shalt straightway recover from thy sickness."

battle of largs

Detail from William Hole’s painting
The Battle of Largs

So the knight, who had long been laid up and suffering from some incurable feverish sickness, at once awoke out of his sleep, made the necessary preparations, and set out on pilgrimage to Dunfemline, though he could hardly stir in bed the day before.

When he came to Dunfermline, he was brought by the Prior to Blessed Margaret's bier, where he touched the relics and prayed. And straightway from that hour he was cured of all his sickness and the fever left him.

Now, this was done so that it should not be said that the aforesaid vision was brought about by a trick of evil spirits, but it was in very truth manifested from Heaven, as the result of the affair most clearly showed.

For shortly afterwards, the King's envoys came thither and brought word of the splendid victory of the Battle of Largs , in which the King of Norway was routed by a small Scottish force under Alexander II, thus saving Scotland from the Viking overlord.

And so they rejoiced thereat with great gladness, and gave praises unto God and the Blessed Queen Margaret.

pencil scotland

The Pencil monument, built to commemorate
the victory of the Battle of Largs

To be continued

Excerpt from William Paterson, The Book of Pluscarden in The Historians of Scotland,
Edinburgh: T. & A. Constable, 1880, vol. X, p. 70-71.

Posted July 11, 2020

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