Monday, May 31, 2010

May 31st: Margaret Beaufort, Patron and Regent

Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, grandmother and regent of Henry VIII and patron of St. John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, was born on this day in 1443. She founded two colleges at the University of Cambridge, Christ's and St. John's and chairs of divinity at both the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford. She also served briefly as regent for Henry VIII after his father died and before his 18th birthday, dying on June 29, 1509, just after the coronations of Henry and Catherine of Aragon.
Margaret was married four times and lived apart from her fourth husband after taking a vow of chastity. She is usually pictured at prayer or holding a prayer book, as in the portrait above. Nevertheless, when Bishop Fisher preached her funeral sermon, he emphasized her role as a Martha rather than as a Mary, because of her good works and efforts. He served as one of the executors of her will.

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