Scotland’s Christian ‘saint in the making’ Margaret Sinclair to star in new play

Paul Mc Sherry – The Margaret Sinclair Story, a new Edinburgh Fringe Festival play by written by Stephen Callaghan, right. Margaret will be played by Maryfrances Jennow, centre, at St Patrick’s RC Church, Cowgate, Edinburgh, from 6th -12th Aug at 7.30pm. Archbishop of St Andrew’s and Edinburgh, Leo Cushley, is on the left.

A 20th century Scottish nun is to be the star of a new show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Margaret Sinclair, who was born in Edinburgh in 1900 and died in London in 1925, has already been declared venerable, the first step towards becoming a saint. She is a household name in Scotland and many hope one day to witness her canonisation, with many apparent miracles already said to be attested to her intercession.

During his 1982 visit to Scotland, Pope St John Paul II said: “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.”

The Margaret Sinclair Story, a one-woman play, will be on at St Patrick’s Church in Edinburgh, the site of her tomb, where her body was reinterred in 1927 after her original burial in London.

Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, Leo Cushley, said: “This new one-woman play is such an exciting, novel and entertaining way to tell the story of an ordinary Edinburgh girl who lived a most extraordinary life of holiness such that her saintly reputation still inspires people worldwide.”

StephenCDickson/Wiki – The shrine of Margaret Sinclair at St Patrick’s, Edinburgh

Sinclair was born in Cowgate in Edinburgh’s Old Town in 1900, one of six children of an Edinburgh dustman who grew up in poverty in a two-room basement. She left school at 14, worked as a French polisher, then in a biscuit factory and became a trade union activist.

In 1923 she entered the Poor Clares convent in London, becoming Sister Mary Francis of the Five Wounds.

She worked tirelessly to help the poor before herself contracting and dying of tuberculosis.

She was declared Venerable in 1978, two steps from canonisation.

The play’s author and director Stephen Callaghan said: “I’m very honoured to have been asked by the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh to write this play which I hope will be a joyful, vibrant and compelling depiction of Venerable Margaret’s life.

“I really think that Maryfrances Jennow is the perfect young actress to dramatically convey why Margaret is such a fabulous example of the joy of the Gospel lived out in daily life, a great example for our times – and especially for young people.”

The actress, Maryfrances Jennow, 25, who will play Sincliar and who trained at the University of the West of Scotland, said: “I guess the first thing that struck me when I was offered the part of Margaret Sinclair is that we have the same name given her religious title was Mary Francis – we’re also similar ages,” said the young actress.

“The more I’ve got to know about Venerable Margaret, the more I realise the drama, the struggle and, at times, the humour that’s involved in the heroic pursuit of being good, being virtuous in the day-to-day things of life – I’ve found her story inspirational and I just hope others who come to see the play arrive at the same conclusion.”

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