Saturday, April 16, 2011

Survey of Catholic Heritage of Scotland I

On Tuesday, June 1, 1982 Pope John Paul II continued his apostolic journey to Great Britain with a vist to Scotland. According to his website:

The Holy Father spent a day-and-a-half of his tour north of the border in Scotland. Although the time was short, the Pope visited a total of seven venues and greeted hundreds of thousands of people. Young people held a special place in His Holiness’s heart as witnessed at World Youth Days subsequently hosted across the world from 1984. In addressing the young people who had gathered at Murrayfield in Edinburgh on 31st May. From Murrayfield the Pope made his way to a gathering of priests and religious, met with Christian church leaders and subsequently travelled to St Joseph’s Hospital in Rosewell where he greeted the patients , the staff and the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul. His final task in Edinburgh was to address the Scottish Catholic Bishops’ Conference. The Glasgow leg of his tour saw him visit St Andrew’s College, before making his way to Bellahouston Park for an open air Mass. His ended his homily with: ‘Beloved People of Scotland… May the prayers of the blessed Apostles Peter and Andrew obtain this for you!... “Lord, let Scotland flourish through the preaching of Thy word and the praising of Thy name!” Amen.’

300,000 attended the Mass at Bellahouston Park on sweltering hot day and many in the congregation were treated for heat exhaustion, dehydration and sunstroke! Pope John Paul II provided a pretty comprehensive overview of the history of Catholicism in Scotland--here are some of his remarks:



Glasgow: Tuesday, 1 June 1982

7. Dearly beloved in Christ! What response has Scotland given in the past to God’s invitation?

Christian history narrates that from very early times, perhaps even as early as the second half of the fourth century, Scotland embraced the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For over one thousand five hundred years his holy Name has been invoked in this land. Saint Ninian, Saint Columba and Saint Kentigern were the first to evangelise the pagans and establish a primitive Christian Church. After the Dark Ages had passed, during which the Viking invasions failed to quench the light of the Faith, the coming of Queen Margaret inaugurated a new chapter in the history of the Church in Scotland, which received fresh vigour from internal reorganization and from closer contact with the universal Church.

Although situated geographically on the remote edge of Europe, the Church in Scotland became especially dear to the Popes, at the centre and heart of Christianity, and they conferred upon it the exceptional title Specialis Filia Romanae Ecclesiae, “Special Daughter of the Roman Church!”

What a magnificent designation!

The Church was intimately involved in the struggle for national independence, with the bishops - men like Robert Wishart of Glasgow - to the forefront of your patriots. And throughout the later Middle Ages our holy Faith continued to flourish in these parts, fine cathedrals and collegiate churches being built, numerous monastic houses being endowed, across the length and breadth of this land. The names of Bishops Wardlaw, Turnbull and Elphinstone remain inseparably linked with the foundation of your universities, of which this little nation has always been so justifiably proud.

While Scottish scholars, such as Duns Scotus, Richard of Saint Victor and John Major, gained an international repute for learning and brought honour to their native land.

The sixteenth century found the churchmen and the laity unprepared for the religious upheaval of that day, which vehemently swept away the mediaeval Church from Scotland, almost, though not quite, without trace. The hierarchy became extinct; the remnant of the faithful was dispersed: Scotland was isolated from the reforms decreed by the Council of Trent.

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