On the Holy Rood

OK, as our most recent trip had to be postponed for a few weeks, I’m going back to before the beginning for this entry.

On June 5, while on my way to St. Patrick in Nashua, N.H., I realized I was going to arrive much earlier than I anticipated. So early, in fact, the church wouldn’t be open by the time I arrived.

Given an extra half-hour to play with, I thought it would be neat to visit a different church beforehand, one with a pretty meaningful connection. Just across the state line from Nashua sits Lowell, Massachusetts, where my father was born and raised before moving to New York.

I’d only made one previous trip to Lowell, when I was a child and my dad drove us past his boyhood home. This time, I made a pit stop at his childhood parish, St. Margaret of Scotland.

It seemed kind of a nice way of informally kicking things off, and something I know my late grandparents, Edward and Marie Markham, would have been most delighted with. Truth be told, I’m pretty sure those daily Mass attendees would have been extraordinarily pleased with this entire endeavor.

Interestingly enough, since my visit, St. Margaret has combined with two other local parishes, St. John the Evangelist of North Chelmsford and St. Mary of Chelmsford, to form the Holy Rood Collaborative. The Holy Rood refers to any image of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and John, standing together at the foot of The Cross.

The name of the new collaborative is quite fitting, as each has a connection to the Holy Rood. St. Mary and St. John the Evangelist’s connections are obvious. As for St. Margaret, I’ll let the collaborative’s website take it from here…

“It is said that when 21-year-old Margaret had to flee to Scotland following the conquest of England in 1066, she brought her most valuable treasure with her… a true relic of the specific wooden cross upon which Christ was crucified and died. In 1070, her husband, Malcom III,  founded the Abbey of Dunfermline, where she kept this relic enshrined in an ebony colored crucifix—this is how the term Black Rood came into being, which it is often referred to. In 1093, as she lay dying, it was this relic to which she clung.

“Her great love and devotion of this relic inspired her son, King David I, the youngest of St. Margaret’s children to erect the Holy Rood Abbey in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1128. It was here that the relic continued to be safeguarded until it was regained by the English in 1346,” the website notes.

The Saturday vigil Mass was about an hour away when I visited St. Margaret.
St. Margaret is now part of the Holy Rood Collaborative, along with St. John the Evangelist of North Chelmsford and St. Mary of Chelmsford.
During my brief visit, I had a nice conversation with whom I guess is Father Brian, the current pastor of the parish.

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