St, Margaret's RC Memorial Church is the home of a precious first-class relic of St. Margaret of Scotland. This relic (a shoulder bone of the saint) was returned to Dunfermline on the Feast Day of St, Margaret, 16th of November, 2008 after appropriate negotiation with Church authorities by Father David Barr, Parish Priest at the time. The relic had been in the care of the Ursuline Sisters (based in Edinburgh) for some 145 years prior to this but was now returned home. The transfer of a reliquary holding the relic was made during the solemn celebration of Mass in St Margaret’s by Cardinal Keith O’Brien together with Father Barr.
St. Margaret was Queen of Scotland during the 11th century (click here to read more on the history of Margaret and her brother Edgar) and on her death in 1093, she was buried in Dunfermline Abbey alongside her husband, King Malcolm Canmore. The tomb of St. Margaret was destroyed in 1560 during the ransacking of Dunfermline Abbey but some relics of her body were secreted abroad. They eventually found their way into the possession of King Phillip II of Spain who placed them in the Royal Monastery of the Escurial.
It wasn't until the mid-19th century that work to arrange for the relic of St. Margaret to be returned to Scotland was started. This project was taken up by Bishop James Gillis then Bishop Apostolic of the Eastern District of Scotland. Bishop Gillis initially applied to Rome in 1847 seeking permission to remove the relics of St. Margaret from the Escurial in Spain. This permission was only granted in 1862 during an audience with Pope Pius IX and on the proviso that the Queen of Spain gave her assent. Many delays and disappointments followed as the Escurial containing the relics had been scattered during the Peninsular War (1808-14), but eventually Bishop Gillis obtained a large relic of St. Margaret with the necessary authentications and on 28th October 1862, he arrived back in Edinburgh with the relic. The relic was entrusted to the care of Ursuline Sisters at St. Margaret's Convent in Edinburgh.
More information is contained in a booklet by David Atherton & Michael Payton (March 2016). Read more....
The reliquary containing the relic is now housed in the altar within the Lady Chapel of St. Margaret's RC Memorial Church where it can be freely venerated.
St. Margaret's National Pilgrimage
The relic is the centrepiece during the annual National Pilgrimage in honour of St. Margaret when it is held in procession through the town from the gates of Pittencrief Park to St. Margaret's Church. Click here to read more on the National Pilgrimage held on 12th June 2016.
In 2017 the Pilgrimage will be held on Sunday 11th June.