Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Woes of Mary Stuart

Christine reminds us of the many trials endured by Mary Queen of Scots:
If ever you start feeling sorry for yourself for hardships you're enduring, think of Mary Queen of Scots, and count your blessings. Here was a woman who:

was widowed by the age of nineteen;

inherited a throne of a people who did not want her because she was "foreign" and Catholic;

married a man who plotted to overthrow and imprison her while she was pregnant with his child;

was forced to marry her third husband, after her second husband's untimely death, because he had allegedly taken her by force;

was betrayed by her closest advisors in an uprising, and deposed;

when seeking refuge in England under her cousin Queen Elizabeth, was imprisoned unjustly instead;

languished in prison for nineteen years, much of that time suffering from gastric disorders that occasioned bouts of vomiting and fever, only to be told by her jailers she was faking it;

was betrayed by her only son (raised a Puritan in Scotland) when he secured an alliance with Queen Elizabeth;

was lured into the Babington plot by the machinations of Walsingham, and beheaded for it;

and whose last wishes, including a Catholic burial, were never honored by Queen Elizabeth.

When they arrested her shortly before her execution, Mary cried, "I desire neither goods, honours, power nor worldly sovereignty, but only the honor of His Holy Name and His Glory and the liberty of His Church and of the Christian people." Queen Mary died with the courage of a martyr, and Pope Benedict XIV noted that nothing stood in the way of declaring her a martyr for the faith except for lingering historical doubts about her second husband Darnley's death. Mary's confessor, however, proclaimed her absolute innocence in the matter.

Maria Regina Scotorum, ora pro nobis.

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Enbrethiliel said...


Elena, doesn't it sometimes seem that the Church is rather slow to recognise the sanctity of martyrs from royal backgrounds? Obviously, it wasn't always so (I refer to your "Fountain of Elias" post on St. Louis IX), but I guess the spirit of an increasingly "democratic" world has a greater influence than we'd like to think.

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, E., the brave new democratic world certainly plays a part. However, the Church always has to be very careful before canonizing people who were involved in politics. Even non-royals like St. Joan and St. Thomas More had to wait a long, long time to be officially recognized as saints.

MadMonarchist said...

Yet Charles I of Austria's case seems to be moving fairly swiftly. Of course, he wasn't emperor for very long but I had thought his two attempts at restoration might have squashed his chances. There doesn't seem to be any doubt to me though that the past ties between altar and throne and not emphasized anymore and indeed most often de-emphasized. Besides, I'm sure any talk of canonizing the great Mary Queen of Scots would be deemed needlessly provocative in the on-going dialogue with the Anglican church. To declare Mary a martyr would be to cast a negative light on Elizabeth and that is most definitely not tolerated!

Unknown said...

mmm.. I know I'm a minority here, but I have little sympathy for Mary. I think most of her problems were of her own doing. She had exceedingly bad judgment (though for a spoilt rich kid, she was very brave and determined).

elena maria vidal said...

Hi, Dorit, great to hear from you! have you read John Guy's bio of Mary? He analyzes her political decisions and demonstrates that she was remarkably astute for a young woman and that most of her policies as a ruling monarch were balanced and enlightened for the time. But the few misguided decisions she made (marrying Darnley, being one) did her in.....