St Margaret's Church

One of the advantages in winter time in Dunfermline is seeing some of its most significant buildings illuminated against the night sky. One example of this is St Margarets R.C Church and this photograph shows how it looked in 1996 when it was floodlit against the night sky.

In the early 19th century the Catholic population in Dunfermline was very low, as noted in Chalmers History of Dunfermline:

"Roman Catholic congregation founded 1823. Having no resident priest, they meet in the houses of two of their number who conduct the usual services but of course do not perform mass".  As numbers subsequently grew, a missionary priest, a native of Dunfermline who came from a well-respected family of business people, Father George Mullen, embarked on a visionary project, the construction of a national memorial church to St Margaret.

He appealed to the nobility of Scotland for help and the Marquess of Bute responded by providing funds to commence the scheme. Our next photograph shows the church under construction. The original idea had been to open in time for the 800th anniversary of St Margaret's death in 1893. 

However, difficulties encountered in raising the £30,000 required delayed the opening until 17th June 1896. It was constructed in 12th century style and its interior elevation resembles Dunfermline Abbey Church built for St Margaret by her son King David (for which stonemasons were brought up from Durham to create a striking Norman church similar to Durham Cathedral).

The Shrine of St Margaret and Dunfermline Abbey were popular places of pilgrimage many centuries ago and this tradition was revived by the Catholic Church in 1899, which opened with Mass in the new Church, followed by a procession to St Margaret’s Cave and the tomb of St Margaret.

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