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Friday, December 9, 2016
New Scottish cardinal to bless shrine of worker nun
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 The first public engagement of Scottish Archbishop Keith O'Brien following his induction to Cardinal by the Pope later this month will be to preside over the blessing of the new shrine and re-interment of the Venerable Margaret Sinclair in Edinburgh on October 25. The remains of Margaret Sinclair, a former factory worker and nun who died in 1925, have been exhumed from Mount Vernon cemetery in Edinburgh, and will shortly be re-interred in St Patrick's Church, the church she attended as a child, in The Cowgate, just off the City's Royal Mile. The re-interment is widely seen as part of the move towards Sinclair's eventual beatification and canonisation, and marks another remarkable chapter in the story of a woman whose working life began as an agitator for workers rights in Scotland and ended as nun with the Poor Clares in London. Sinclair, the daughter of a dustman, was born into poverty in 1900, the third of nine children brought up in a basement flat in Blackfriars Street in Edinburgh, close to St Patrick's. She began work at the age of 14 as an apprentice French polisher with a local cabinet maker. Appalled at the conditions she and her colleagues were forced to work in she joined a trade union and became an active member. When the cabinet shop closed, Sinclair took work in a McVittie's biscuit factory. By her early twenties Sinclair had set her heart on becoming a nun and joined the Poor Clares in Notting Hill, West London, in 1923 where she became Sister Mary Francis of the Five Wounds. She died of tuberculosis shortly after making her final vows on November 25 1925. Although Sinclair has developed a following as a champion of factory workers and underprivileged, the Vatican has so far failed to ratify any miracles attributed to her, a prerequisite for sainthood. Advocating the case for Sinclair's elevation to sainthood during the 1950's, the late Archbishop of Edinburgh and St Andrew's, Cardinal Gray, said: "We can still admire the heroism of the early martyrs, but the unlikelihood of her being thrown to the lions makes these first Christian saints somewhat remote and shadowy figures. Margaret Sinclair may well be one of the first to achieve the title of Saint from the factory floor." Sinclair was given the title Venerable Margaret Sinclair by Pope Paul VI in 1978. This month's re-interment will be the second for Sinclair. She was originally buried in Kensal Green cemetery in London but was moved two years later to Mount Vernon cemetery in Edinburgh. Among those backing calls for her to be made a saint is Sir Jimmy Saville, who claims he owed his life to her intercession when he was seriously ill as a young boy. Other people claim to have been cured of osteoporosis and tuberculosis after prayers were said to Sinclair. The last person from Scotland to be made a saint was St John Ogilvie, a Jesuit priest hanged for being a Catholic in 1615, and canonised in 1976. The last Scottish female saint was St Margaret, born in 1045 and canonised in the 13th century, although she was not born in Scotland. A formal procession scheduled to take place ahead of the blessing of the shrine has been cancelled, due to concern about the number of people who would want to attend Scotland's new Cardinal's first public engagement following the announcement of his promotion.
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