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Cause of Edinburgh sister is relaunched

Archbishop Leo Kushley and Fr Joe McAuley at the tomb of The Venerable Margaret Sinclair in St Patrick's Church, Cowgate, Edinburgh. (Ivon Bartholomew)

Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrew’s and Edinburgh has relaunched the Cause of an Edinburgh woman who died of tuberculosis in 1925.

The Venerable Margaret Sinclair was born in Cowgate in Edinburgh’s Old Town in 1900, one of six children who grew up in poverty in a two-room basement. Her father was a dustman and she left school at 14, where she worked as a French polisher and became a trade union activist.

In 1923 the Venerable Margaret entered a Convent of the Order of Poor Clares in London, becoming Sister Mary Francis of the Five Wounds, where she helped the poor before dying of tuberculosis in 1925.

During his time 1982 visit to Scotland St John Paul II stated that “Margaret could well be described as one of God’s little ones, who through her very simplicity, was touched by God with the strength of real holiness of life, whether as a child, a young woman, an apprentice, a factory worker, a member of a trade union or a professed sister of religion”.

Sinclair was declared Venerable in 1978 but her causes has since stalled.

Archbishop Cushley has now appointed Fr Joseph McAuley, parish priest of St Lucy’s Church in Cumbernauld, Dunbartonshire, to lead campaign to to have Margaret declared “Blessed” and then “Saint”.

Archbishop Cushley said: “As my delegate Fr McAuley will be working closely with me to promote Margaret’s cause and to spread the message of this fascinating young woman.

“Margaret led an exemplary life as a lay person, who was very much a modern woman, a woman of her times, and who was also an exemplary religious sister albeit briefly before she died at the age of 25.”

He continued: “Almost immediately after her death in 1925 a devotion to Margaret spread and spread rapidly and was very strong for many decades.”

“This is something that Fr McAuley and I are hoping to build upon and strengthen to spread in the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh, throughout Scotland and, please God, beyond”.

Fr Joseph McAuley added: “Margaret was a person who prayed in an intimate personal way with Jesus,” said “to this very practical Christianity also has to be added her deep humility and her heroic endurance of suffering.”

He said he was delighted and surprised to have been appointed: “Within myself I wondered how the good bishop could have known I had a devotion to Venerable Margaret. I recall very many years ago being introduced to this devotion by my mother and recall praying in the family at one point for some intention.

“Thereafter whilst I would occasionally be reminded of her cause I did not pray to her. This had changed as the result of a visit to the parish of St. Benedict’s in Drumchapel, Glasgow, where the parish community prayed the novena prayers to her each day after morning Mass. As a result over the past 10 years or so I began praying to her each day”.

In order for Margaret Sinclair to be declared “Blessed” a miracle now needs to be attributed to her Heavenly intercession.

Archbishop Cushley is also instituting a new monthly Mass at the tomb of Venerable Margaret in St Patrick’s Church in the Cowgate, to take place on the first Tuesday of each month.