Margaret of Scotland vs. William Temple

Today we stick with the British Isles for a battle between Scotland and England in the form of Margaret of Scotland vs. William Temple. So it's a pious woman of the 11th century (who didn't become a nun!) squaring off against an early 20th century theologian and Archbishop of Canterbury (who didn't become a nun, either!).

It's been said that "every rose has its thorn." In yesterday's Lent Madness action we learned that Rose of Lima's thorn is Brigid of Kildare who defeated her in the most lopsided battle to date, 82% to 18%. Ouch.

After today’s match-up, we only have one more battle left before the start of the Round of the Saintly Sixteen. Check out the updated bracket and the calendar of upcoming battles and then vote!

Margaret of Scotland (1045-1093) was born Margaret Atheling in Hungary and ended up in England with her family as part of a succession plan devised by King Edward. During the tumult following his death, Margaret and her family fled England and landed in Scotland where they found shelter in the court of King Malcolm.

Eventually Margaret set aside her plans to become a nun and married Malcolm. She had eight children and her descendants ruled Scotland for 200 years. During her reign, Scotland  became a center of Christian culture.

Known for her piety and fidelity to the Roman Catholic Church, she was instrumental in rooting out corruption in the moribund Scottish Church and rebuilding monasteries at Iona and Dumferline (destroyed by Reformers in the 16th century). While hagiographers tend focus on her commitment to crafting church vestments and ornaments, Margaret was even more renowned in her day for charity and kindness to the poor, especially children and the elderly.

Collect for Margaret of Scotland: O God, you called your servant Margaret to an earthly throne that she might advance your heavenly kingdom, and gave her zeal for your Church and love for your people: Mercifully grant that we who commemorate her this day may be fruitful in good works, and attain to the glorious crown of your saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

-- Meredith Gould

William Temple (1881-1944) was a member of the clergy in the Church of England, who became Bishop of Manchester (1921-1929), Archbishop of York (1929-1942), and Archbishop of Canterbury (1942-1944). His father, Frederick Temple, was also ordained and served as Bishop of Exeter (1869-1885), Bishop of London (1885-1896), and Archbishop of Canterbury (1896-1902). So William, who never knew his father in an official role other than as a bishop, was raised not only in the heart of the Church of England but also in the heart of the British Empire. Perhaps that inspired him to think that Anglican Christianity might be able to build with others a transcendent version of the British Empire, possessing the ability to transform both his own nation and the world. The best example of that firm conviction can be seen in his support of efforts to establish what would become, after his death, the World Council of Churches.

He excelled in his studies at Oxford, where he also lectured until his ordination, and used his noted intellect in his clerical vocation to help the Church of England look beyond its own walls to the needs of society. That passion for social justice, which he expressed in both word and deed, was grounded in his belief in the truth of the Incarnation (i.e., the doctrine that God, in Jesus Christ, “became flesh, and lived among us”). It led Temple to view as sacred every individual and, indeed, all of life.

Before his appointment as a bishop, Temple resigned a comfortable living as the Rector of St. James’s Church, Piccadilly, in London in order to become a leader in the “Life and Liberty” movement. That popular effort to reform the governance of the Church of England successfully added the voice of the laity in a more democratic structure.

Temple became Archbishop of Canterbury during World War II and died on October 26, 1944, after only two and a half years in that role. He did not live to see the end of those hostilities or the results of some of the seeds that he planted, but his hope for the future was nicely summarized in the title of his last book, published in the year of his death: The Church Looks Forward.

Collect for William Temple: O God of light and love, who illumined your Church through the witness of your servant William Temple: Inspire us, we pray, by his teaching and example, that we may rejoice with courage, confidence, and faith in the Word made flesh, and may be led to establish that city which has justice for its foundation and love for its law; through Jesus Christ, the light of the world, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

-- Neil Alan Willard


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124 comments on “Margaret of Scotland vs. William Temple”

    1. Well, my patron saints must be Cyril and Methodius if it's due to your birth date, but I'm all for Margaret - rooting out corruption and helping poor and needy. And my Aunt Margaret Mary, Cousin Mary Margaret and great friend Margaret would all agree.

  1. This one to too hard for early morning and will have to wait until later in the day.
    Margaret - a personal favorite of mine. I love that she opposed the corruption in the church and was known in her day for her charity. Not every queen is remember for the same.
    William - helped the church look beyond itself to the society beyond the doors. My only reserve on him, that he had the empire as a model for the spread of the church.
    Maybe after a cup of tea. I look forward to everyone's comments today!

  2. Margaret is a personal favorite. I grew up in St. Margaret of Scotland parish, my daughter is named for her (and a favorite relative). I always loved that she looked out for the poor and needy. And routed out corruption, too! Being of Scottish extraction, I think it's time to honor a Scottish saint. Margaret all the way - go Meg, Maggie, Peg!

  3. Quick question: If she died in 1093, how could Margaret have been "instrumental in rooting out corruption in the moribund Scottish Church and rebuilding monasteries at Iona and Dumferline (destroyed by Reformers in the 16th century)" — No! Wait! I get it. She rebuilt and the Reformers came along later and wrecked what she had done. Like so much of history. Sorry, Meredith to question your excellent research!

    1. Susan,
      I had the same confusion on my first reading. Went back & confirmed the dates Margaret lived and came to the same conclusion about the reformers destroying Iona and Dunferline.

  4. William Temple said, almost prophetically for our current times: " Our present time is indeed a criticizing and critical time, hovering between the wish, and the inability to believe. Our complaints are like arrows shot up into the air at no target: and with no purpose they only fall back upon our own heads and destroy ourselves."

    1. Wrong quote, please disregard! But I still voted for William Temple. His devotion to the Incarnation, work to include the laity in the polity of the Church, and his theological work in a world plunged into war get my support.

  5. Margaret was obviously a lovely girl and did good things. But William Temple (imho) was the greatest Anglican theologian of the 20th Century and his writings were extremely formative of my own theology. He's got my vote.

      1. Perfectly acceptable way, as demonstrated by a couple of knights of the realm....

        "Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl,
        but she doesn't have a lot to say
        Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl
        but she changes from day to day

        I want to tell her that I love her a lot
        But I gotta get a bellyful of wine
        Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl
        Someday I'm going to make her mine, oh yeh,
        someday I'm going to make her mine. "

  6. If you go to Edinburgh Castle, make sure you spend a bit of time in Margaret''s Chapel. It is a gem. Like Margaret.

    Go Maggie!

  7. Abp. emple was an admirable Cantuar and great Anglican theologian, however, he was kind of a set-up: his father was a bishop and the Church hierarchy was always part of his life. I applaud his work in ecumenism and emphasis on Incarnation. However, in his life I don't see the active compassion for little people that Queen Margaret demonstrated day in and day out. She actively ministered, even though she was foreign-born, amongst the common people of Scotland, and brought a civilizing influence to the Scottish court. To be so actively faithful while maintaining a marriage and bearing and raising children seems quite remarkable to me. Besides, I love her chapel atop Edinburgh Castle! And, well, yes, I -am- named Mary Margaret!

    1. Have to disagree that Temple was 'set up'--he was initially refused ordination by the Bishop of Oxford because his theology was suspect (I've actually held in my hands the pre-ordination letters for both his diaconal and priestly ordinations).

      1. This is definitely consoling for others who have been refused ordination . . . and all the more reason to vote for Temple!

        1. Sister Mary, there's a great, but admittedly apocryphal story about Temple leading a pre-ordination retreat. He is said to have started his talk with these young men by saying 'Gentlemen, God has called you to the priesthood. Because he's realized he cannot trust you as laymen'.

          Another one where, if he didn't say it, someone ought to have done!

  8. Calling all friends of St. Margaret's House and Church Divinity School of the Pacific! Vote for Margaret! Honor the legacy of St. Margaret's House where deaconesses and church professional were trained in Berkeley, CA from 1914 until its merger with CDSP in 1967. St. Margaret's House was a vibrant center of theological education and training. Its graduates were faithful witnesses to the life of Christ and the church.

  9. 200 years? Don't her descendants still reign over Scotland (and the rest of the UK? And, of course, like many queens she married a Scot (i.e. a native of the country where she became queen) but was not one herself.

    1. I should have been more specific: Although born in Hungary (the English royals were in exile from Canute and his fellow Danes) Margaret was English and cousin to Edward the Confessor. Since he was a friend of the family I count her as one too and she got my vote. I do have a bit of trivia on William Temple -- several years ago I did a locum in a parish which was founded under his Episcopal oversight. The parish history records that the wardens were impressed by his ability to discuss the parish with them, dictate correspondence, and conduct telephone conversations all at the same time. And, BTW his father also served as ABC, not just in any old diocese. It was the first Abp. Temple who crowned Edward VII and nearly dropped the crown on him as reported by an eyewitness. (Both Temple and the Dean of the Abbey were rather tottery (having postponed retirement in order to be able to do the coronation once Victoria shuffled off her mortal coil) and the Dean nearly prevented the accident by making a wrong turn and carrying the crown off into a transept. The same eyewitness reports that apart from these exceptions the ceremony went quite well.

  10. St. Margaret's got my vote (but not merely because I share her name!). Many years ago I visited her tiny chapel in Edinburgh Castle and I have long admired her courage and devotion in living a life of faith in action.

  11. Yeah, I would normally go with Temple for his theologia-magificatus, however, my daughter Meghan is named after the great Scottish Queen. Go Margaret!

  12. I always confuse Margaret of Scotland with Elizabeth of Hungary, especially since Margaret was originally from Hungary.

  13. Oy veh -- another tough choice! But I'm going with Margaret...her example, her faithfulness, her compassion and generosity, her unswerving dedicaton to Christ's people...and the Sisters of Saint Margaret (who actually claim the obscure virgin saint of Antioch as their patroness -- go figure!), who came to Boston to administer and nurse at Children's Hospital (an institution of great significance to my family)...go, Meg, Maggie, Margie!

  14. William Temple confronted anti-Semitism when it was widespread in England and he was not afraid to challenge conventional religiosity. Try this quotation of his on your congregation, " The Church is the only organization that exists PRIMARILY for the benefit of non-members." Even though I am a Scot I have to vote for WT.

    1. Ken, sorry--that's the most famous thing Temple never said. He said much like it, but that's such a condensation as to be incorrect. I wrote my PhD on Temple's ecclesiology, and could NEVER find that quote in anything he wrote, including a thorough read of a lot of his stuff that never gets out of the Bodleian or Lambeth Palace libraries. What he actually did was to compare the church to an army, and to claim that an army doesn't exist primarily for the convenience of the soldiers in it, but for the kingdom it serves. And that has to be coupled with his other great, but less known quote (from Readings in St John's Gospel) that if the church claims to be a foretaste of heaven, but people outside it look at the church and as a result say they don't want to go to heaven--that's the fault of the Church! (I also wrote the 1996, I think, article in "Anglican and Episcopal History" about ++Temple's witness against the Nazi persecutions of the Jews and others.

  15. For anyone moved to vote for Margaret merely because of Scottish affiliation, hold off. She wasn't just a lovely do-gooder. She was also an aggressive advocate for the subjugation of Gaelic language and culture and she would have happily done away with the Celtic Church as a whole. Now, I know the distinct features of Celtic Christianity are a matter of great scholarly dispute, but I still say Margaret was an ungracious imperialist. My vote's with William Temple, for social justice and solidarity.

  16. Despite the apparent use of a saintly time-turner by Margaret (who lived in the 11th century but rebuilt monastaries torn down by the reformers in the 16th century) as well as her 5-extra-points for being Celtic, and the unfortunate implication of empire-building for William, I still went with William for his social justice impulses.

    Both of the writers today get a C-.

  17. It is a difficult decision. I felt impressed by both of them. I also like to see women in action above all in a time when women were relegated to the shadows. However, since I am an Anglican, I am choosing today a Bishop of Canterbury which is the spiritual leader of our community of churches.

  18. Well, it's obvious the feminists are going to run roughshod over the C of E and the woman was RC....people !!!!! I am a deacon but the fact that deaconesses were trained at St. M's House in Berkeley can't override the fact that Temple was the B of C !!! Yeah, Temple ! Rah ! Rah ! Rah ! My sentiments are in alignment with Gian's and I don't even know him. Oh...I don't have to, do I ?

    1. Thank you. You are right. You do not have to know me. However, if you are ever planning to visit South Florida, I gladly will attend an Episcopal Mass with you.
      Regards, Gian.

  19. Margaret got my vote not only because she was pretty amazing but also because is sounds as though she could transcend centuries to "rebuild monasteries...(destroyed by Reformers in the 16th century)" Methinks a word of "later destroyed by Reformers" might put her in the correct century....otherwise I have no idea how she did that! Go Margaret of Scotland!

  20. Your introduction contains an unfortunately common spelling error:
    'It’s been said that “every rose has it’s thorn.”' It's in the penultimate word.

    Z. Philip Ambrose

  21. All of Edinburgh Castle is indeed inspiring (and, my memory is a bit fuzzy on this, but I believe I remember another St. Margaret's Chapel at Stirling?), but today I abandon my Celtic affinity (hey, SHE was from Hungary) and go with the Anglican!

  22. I was tempted to go with Margaret, as I just had a read-through of the Scottish Play last night. But looking at Temple's influence on the church on our own day, I had to go with him.

  23. Four generations of Margarets in my family: my sainted mother Margaret Elizabeth; me, Patricia Margaret; my daughter Ann-Eleanor Margaret and her daughter Kathryn Margaret, who vows to name her own daughter Margaret when she grows up. I love the name and I love the saint. Margaret, it is!

  24. Another lovely feature of Margaret's lay vocation was that she apparently loved beautiful clothes while also spending lots of time and money helping the poor.

    Meredith and Aletheia: Margaret was not RC as there was no RC church in her time, just Western and Eastern Christianity which split in her lifetime; within Western Xtianity was a wide variety of liturgical and spiritual traditions, one of which was a nascent Roman liturgical rite. The RC church in its present form dates from the Reformation. Do you really want to agree with uber-conservative Catholics that it's the everlasting church of Christ from which others broke away, and cede all the great achievements and holy people of united Christendom to one of its denominations?