Fiona: We can take a seat on the benches here. Right back at the start, at St Margaret’s shrine, I was telling you that she was made a saint when her great, great-grandson got the Pope on board, around the middle of the 1200s. When the canonisation process started, they had to check out all the claims about miracles, to see if she was the real deal.
Fiona: Anyway, turns out Queen Margaret’s tomb in the old Abbey had acquired a reputation as a great place for getting healed and lots of miracles were recorded there. All sorts of ailments were cured – withered limbs returned to use, eyesight restored, toothache cured…
Thomas: Toothache cured? Is that much of a miracle?
Fiona: I know it sounds odd now but 900 years ago, there was no way of fixing a tooth or dealing with the pain. It must have been really awful to live with something like that, in constant agony and not being able to eat properly.
Thomas: Hadn’t really thought of that.
Fiona: And the person with their stomach full of lizards was probably pretty happy she sorted them out too.
Fiona: So those all counted. Then there were a couple of strange stories about when they came to move her bones. In readiness for sainthood, the new shrine had been built – you know, the place we started, which at that time remember, was built as part of that grand Abbey. They got ready to move the remains and apparently, when they came to open up her tomb, a smell “sprinkled with the fragrance of spices and the scents of flowers” wafted out.
Fiona: And if that wasn’t enough, there’s another romantic one coming. They took out her remains and put them in something called a reliquary, a special box, often made of gold, designed to hold a saint’s bones or relics. Margaret’s was richly decorated. Now, at some point before all this, Malcolm’s remains had been brought from Northumberland to the Abbey and put in another tomb.
Fiona: It comes to the day and they pick up the relic box easily and begin to move it to the new shrine at the High Altar. As they passed Malcolm’s tomb, the box suddenly became too heavy to carry. No matter what they tried, nobody could lift it. Then some romantic soul suggested she must be yearning for Malcolm’s remains. They opened up his tomb, placed his remains in with Margaret and lo and behold, the box is as light as a feather again.
Thomas: They just couldn’t keep those two apart, eh? So if it is St Margaret’s Church round the corner, does that mean we see these relics here?