Margaret Sinclair

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MARGARET SINCLAIR by Jennifer Brave

All booklets are published thanks to the generous support of the members of the Catholic Truth Society

CATHOLIC TRUTH SOCIETY PUBLISHERS TO THE HOLY SEE


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2 CONTENTS

Early Days .................................................................... 03 Childhood ..................................................................... 04 School Days ................................................................. 06 Growing Up ................................................................. 07 Working Days .............................................................. 09 A Young Man .............................................................. 11 Joining the Convent ..................................................... 14 Being Clothed .............................................................. 16 Illness and Suffering .................................................... 19 Final Hours and Death ................................................. 21 Cures and Favours ....................................................... 22 Canonisation Process ................................................... 22 Present Position ............................................................ 24 Prayer for the beatification of Margaret Sinclair ......... 25 Novena Prayer .............................................................. 25 A Child’s Prayer .......................................................... 26 Notification of Favours and Cures ............................... 26 Note .............................................................................. 26 Sources & Acknowledgments ...................................... 27


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EARLY DAYS Margaret Sinclair was born on 29th March 1900 in the basement flat of No. 24 Middle Arthur Place, a run-down Edinburgh tenement. Her parents, Elizabeth and Andrew, originally came from Dundee, but had moved to Edinburgh in 1897. Margaret was the third of their six children who survived infancy. She had an older brother and sister - John and Isabella (Bella), and there were three more children younger than herself - Andrew, Elizabeth (Lizzie) and Lawrence. Although the area was noisy, smoky and dilapidated, the children were born into a close, happy and loving home. Andrew, their father, worked long and hard to support his growing family; and Elizabeth, their mother, scrubbed and cleaned until everything was shiny and spotless, doing her best to make ends meet. Soon after Margaret was born, the family moved to a three-roomed, third floor flat at No. 13 Blackfriars Street itself in a tenement building set in an area in the old town of Edinburgh, similar to the one that they had just left. Their poor, modest home was close to the parish church of St Patrick, and it was here that Margaret Sinclair was baptised on 11th April 1900 - just two weeks after she was born. Their Catholic faith mattered to both Andrew and Elizabeth Sinclair - Elizabeth had been born a Catholic,


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but Andrew had become a convert shortly before they had married. Both ensured that their children were brought up as Catholics - taking them to Mass and Holy Communion, gathering them together for the family Rosary every evening, taking them on picnics and outings to attend the Forty Hours devotion when the Blessed Sacrament was exposed - which Margaret loved - and to visit the cribs in different churches at Christmas time. They all knew real poverty, but home was happy and united, and their parents were a good and loving influence. Margaret loved her home and family, and would say: “Home is the best place”, and “Thank God for a good father and mother”. The Sinclairs were a happy family and stuck together - it was said that you rarely saw one without another - and Margaret and Bella were especially close. Childhood Margaret Sinclair was aware of the hardships that poverty brings from an early age. Even as a little girl, she had the gift of being able to think out situations in the home and to anticipate the needs of others. As she saw her mother scrubbing and mending, she would say: “I wish I was a big girl so I could help you”. As she and her two sisters got older, they were each given their own household chores to perform. Margaret’s job was to clean and tidy one of the three


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rooms they lived in - but she also took on the dirtiest and hardest job of keeping the stairs to their upstairs flat clean - and would not let any of the others do it. When her mother asked her to do something, she did so, immediately, but would say: “Don’t ask me, tell me to do it”. She loved helping her mother with the cooking, cleaning and mending, and looking after her younger brothers and sister like a second mother. When their father came home, cold and weary on wet, winter evenings after a hard and long day at work he was a dustman, employed by Edinburgh Corporation, whose working day started around 5 a.m. - it was Margaret who filled his pipe and warmed fresh, dry clothing for him, and who made it her business to cheer him up and make him smile. Margaret was always smiling, and, with her bright and cheerful nature, was the joy of the Sinclair home. She would say: “No matter how you are feeling, you must force yourself to give a little smile, because sometimes people may be in difficulties or out of sorts, you never know who may be in trouble, and when you give them a smile in passing it may lighten the way for them and give them courage to bear it”. All through her life the radiance of Margaret’s smile would stay with those she met. There were times when the struggle to make ends meet was too much for her mother to cope with. Margaret always understood her mother’s worries and would


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comfort her, urging “Dinna given in”. When her mother sobbed that she could go no further, Margaret gently stroked her mother’s hair, encouraging her to seek comfort in Confession and Holy Communion, and saying: “Try again, mother. I’ll say a wee prayer for you”. Margaret made her own First Holy Communion on 8th May 1910 - and was Confirmed on the same day - in St Patrick’s Church. School Days Margaret went to St Anne’s Catholic school, which was run by the Sisters of Mercy. She was always laughing and cheerful, and ready for fun, and at St Anne’s, as at home, she worked hard and always tried to do the best she could. She won prizes for running and swimming, and adored games, especially Diabolo - a game which involved throwing an hour-glass shaped top into the air and catching it on a string attached to two sticks. At home, Margaret would get her mother to lean out of their third-floor window to see if the top had reached up to it. She was only ordinary in her standard of academic work and in her examination passes, and had difficulty with grammar and spelling - especially long words. Margaret’s parents could not read or write, and her mother was proud to volunteer her to write letters for a neighbour. Margaret did her best with these, and it was she who later wrote the family letters to her father and older brother


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John when they went to war. In one particular letter written to her father on behalf of her mother - she finished with the words: “God keep you from your loving wife”. Her lack of punctuation caused great mirth, and her father lovingly teased her about it afterwards. During her last year at school, Margaret took a parttime job, running errands for a local shop to help provide for her younger brothers and sister. She left school, at the age of fourteen years, to begin full-time work as an apprentice French Polisher at the Waverley Cabinet Works. Her examination passes at school gave her entry to the Atholl Crescent High School of Domestic Economy, and at evening classes there she obtained certificates in sewing, dressmaking and cookery. During these War years, she took on an allotment - even though she knew nothing about gardening - and won a prize for her cabbages and for the best-kept plot. Growing Up Just like any ordinary young girl, Margaret loved dancing, parties and dressing in the latest fashion, but was always mindful of modesty. She liked making clothes, and she and her sister Bella would gaze into the fine shops in Edinburgh’s Princes Street. She went to parish dances with her family, to the cinema with Bella to laugh at the Charlie Chaplin films, and at home, the whole Sinclair family would play, dance and sing together to


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Margaret Clitherow Life of the famous martyr of York. A butcher’s wife from York, Margaret was brought up in the new protestant religion, but was reconciled to the Catholic Church in 1574. Twelve years later she suffered brutal execution following years of apostolic activity, including harbouring Catholic priests. She had refused to plead at her trial in order to spare her children and servants from testifying against her. Her husband never returned to the Catholic faith, though a daughter of hers became a nun at Louvain. One of the Forty Martyrs, she was canonised in 1970. The Saints of the Isles series brings together telling accounts of the extraordinary lives of men and women from the British Isles lives of holiness, courage and true discipleship to Christ and the Gospel message.

ISBN: 978 1 86082 218 6 CTS Code: B 676


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Forty Martyrs of England and Wales The immortal stories of forty men andwomen who, to the last, joyfully died for their faith. Margaret Clitherow, Edmund Campion, Philip Howard, John Southworth, to mention a few, rank among this group of courageous people whose lives were inextricably caught up in the religious persecution in England and Wales during the 1500s and 1600s. This enlarged edition of an ever popular booklet will continue to amaze and inspire generations to come. They were all canonised by Paul VI in 1970.

ISBN: 978 1 86082 021 2 CTS Code: B 446