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History of St. Margarets Convent, Edinburgh
The first religious house founded in Scotland since the so-called Reformation. And the autobiography of the first religious, Sister Agnes Xavier Trail (1886)


To one who has been witness of the vast advance which the Catholic Religion has made in Calvinistic Scotland within the last fifty years, it must prove an interesting study to trace the causes of so remarkable and extensive a development. In that space of time, churches and convents, schools and orphanages, priests and religious, monks and nuns, have multiplied amazingly, and a thousand other active forces of Catholic life have been brought into play; while the freedom now enjoyed by the lately persecuted members of the Church, and the kindly intercourse subsisting between them and their Protestant neighbours, contrast most strikingly with the penal restrictions of old and the once proverbial bigotry of the nation.

Among the factors contributing to such a result, the Convent of St. Margaret's is deservedly numbered. Founded in Edinburgh fifty years ago, it claims the honour of being the first religious house established in Scotland after three hundred years  of banishment from a country where the magnificent remains of abbeys, priories, and convents show how flourishing they once had been; and, though far Inferior to them In richness, In splendour, and extent, it has rivalled them In good works. The history, therefore, of such an Institution, appears most opportunely at the time when St. Margaret's Convent Is keeping her Golden Jubilee, and furnishes a fruitful theme of meditation to the Christian philosopher. For here, as In other cases, he will see how Divine Providence, when It appoints any great work to be done, brings upon the stage, at the right time, the right person In the right place. He will watch with interest the first Inspirations, and the gradual fashioning of the young enthusiastic Levlte Into the compliant Instrument of the work; and will mark how, as he developed in power, he was ever looking forward so far in advance of his age, and yet knew so well what suited Its wants at the moment. His genius to conceive, his skill to plan, his labours to realise, his unwearied zeal in consolidating the work of his enthusiasm, are worthily recorded in the following pages, as well as the efforts of the Sisters to correspond with the exertions of the Founder to bring the Convent up to such a state of efficiency as has made it an active Instrument In advancing the good cause.

It Is a great chapter in the history of the Catholic Church In Scotland, and I heartily recommend Its perusal to all who love to study the ways of God In bringing about His designs.


Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh.
22nd July 1886.

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