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Story of Scot ‘touched by God’ to be brought to life

By Amanda Connelly

The story of the Venerable Margaret Sinclair, the Edinburgh woman described by Pope St John Paul II in his 1982 Scottish visit as ‘touched by God with the strength of real holiness in her life,’ is to be showcased at the Edinburgh Fringe this summer in the form of a specially commissioned play.

The one-woman play, which will run from August 6-12 at 7:45pm and August 9-11 at 3pm in St Patrick’s Church, Cowgate, the site of Margaret’s tomb, 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,’ Archbishop Leo Cushley said at the play’s media launch.

Writer and director Stephen Callaghan, who is the director of the Archdiocese of Glasgow Arts Project (AGAP), noted his honour at being asked by St Andrews and Edinburgh Archdiocese to write the play, and hopes the drama will be ‘a joyful, vibrant and compelling depiction of Venerable Margaret’s life.’

The drama will chart Venerable Margaret’s life, from her humble beginnings as one of six children born in the Cowgate to a poverty-stricken family, her leaving school at 14, her various jobs as a French polisher, biscuit factory employee and trade union activist until her entry to the Order of Poor Clare’s, London, in 1923, becoming Sr Mary Frances of the Five Wounds, caring for the poor before succumbing to tuberculosis in 1925.

She was titled venerable in 1978 by the Church, just two steps away from sainthood.

Margaret will be played by Glasgow actress Maryfrances Jennow, who trained at the University of the West of Scotland and has been building a stage career since turning professional last year.

“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 Frances—we’re also similar ages,” Ms Jennnow said about the upcoming role. “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.


—This story ran in full in the July 29 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.

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