Thursday 11 September 2014

Record of the Week: The Reinstatement of Scotland's Catholic Hierarchy

If you've been reading the news lately, you will have noticed some stories about Scotland. The news got me wondering what kind of records about Scotland we might have in the archives.

The most interesting item I found was this:

"In the wild and brutal fury that raged in the Sixteenth century, laws the most cruel, unjust and persecuting were put in force against the Catholic Church - her doctrine, her discipline, and her children; and to cut off instruction and propagation of true faith, bishops and priests were thrown into prison and put to death, because they would not renounce the religion of Christ preached to them by holy Apostles. In England and Scotland the laws were so rigorously enforced that not a single bishop was left alive or in the country, and their hierarchy was broken when there were no longer chief pastors to rule the flock. In Ireland, too, the laws were equally cruel and were enforced with the greatest vigilance; the bishops concealed themselves in the caves and fastnesses of the mountains as well as in the cottages of the poor, and thus evaded most unjust edicts and preserved an unbroken succession of bishops; though at one time the number was reduced to three, still the line was never severed... In thanksgiving to God for His mercies to Scotland and her people, our brethren in Christ, we ordain that the Apostolic Letter of our Holy Father Pope Leo XIII, establishing titular bishops in that country, be read, and a solemn Te Deum be chanted in all churches of the Diocese at the conclusion of Mass, on the most convenient Sunday after the reception of this letter."

In 1878, Archbishop Lynch wrote a circular letter to the clergy asking them to read from the pulpit an Apostolic Letter of Pope Leo XIII which reestablished the Catholic Hierarchy in Scotland. For various reason, including the rise of Protestantism and the Scottish Reformation, there hadn't been a bishop in that country since the early 1600s. Though Catholicism remained in some areas, Scotland became heavily Protestant.

For more information about Christianity in Scotland, see here, here, here and here.

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