St Margaret Marloes

This link from The Friends of Friendless Churches tells the story of St Margaret Marloes in the 14th Century.

One interesting fact is that she was the niece of Sir Guy de Bryan, whose splendid but empty tomb may be found in Tewkesbury Abbey and will be familiar to many readers of this blog. Sir Guy apparently gave generous support to his niece.

Even more interesting is the fact that she founded a beguinage. Such communities of religious women, living together without the strict rules that bound nuns and other monastics, were relatively common in the Low Countries. There is, for example, a very famous one in Bruges. The beguines were ‘of the world’ and often did what we might think of as social work, caring, or district nursing.

Margaret’s foundation will have been more modest in its architectural scope. Nonetheless, it is important to note its existence. As far as I am aware, it was the only example in the whole of Britain.

Margaret is a good (and late) example of a ‘popular saint’ of whom many are still remembered in Wales. That is to say, she was not canonised by Rome, but given her status by local popular acclaim and religious devotion to her cult. Unlike Thomas of Lancaster, Edward II, Richard Scrope and Henry VI there was no political motive behind her veneration. She was simply remembered as a good woman, one who had doubtless served her community well.

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