The Holy Father has officially been invited to Scotland by one of Scotland’s top Catholic official, Archbishop Leo Cushley to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the college’s foundation as a seminary. The Archbishop issued the invitation on behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland and the Pontifical Scots College.
The invitation came on Monday, during a private meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
The Pontifical Scots College established by Pope Clement VIII on 5 December 1600, is the main seminary for the training of young men for the priesthood from the dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland. It provided an education for young Scots Catholic men who, due to the laws against Catholics, could not receive a Catholic education at home. During the centuries that followed, the college sent a steady supply of priests to Scotland, being closed only when the French invaded Rome in 1798 and again during the Second World War.
Roman Catholic Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh in Scotland, Archbishop Leo Cushley said: “The Pontifical Scots College has a truly remarkable history and, so, it would be wonderful if Pope Francis could join us as we celebrate that past with pride while looking to the future with great confidence and trust in the Lord.”
” It is now over two years since the Holy Father sent me to Scotland to bring the joy of Christ’s gospel to all those who live within the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh – so I wanted to brief him on how our Archdiocese is progressing with that important mission he has entrusted to me,” he added.
“It would be a great honor for the College and for all the young men studying with us if the Pope Francis is able to join us to mark 400 years of priestly formation,” Rector of the college, Fr Daniel Fitzpatrick said.
“I am sure the Holy Father’s presence would be a great blessing to the College, a source of encouragement for our seminarians and an inspiration to other young men to join them here in Rome to continue the long tradition of the Pontifical Scots College” he said.
“Pope Francis has such a warm, kindly and supportive personality and he was clearly very informed and interested in how the Catholic Church in our part of Scotland is fairing as we attempt to preach the Gospel to our contemporary society. In short, Pope Francis was Peter the rock, such that during our discussion he continually confirmed my faith of by his words and by his example,” Archbishop Leo Cushley said.
The sixteen (16) students studying in the college being challenged and inspired by St. John Ogilvie’s martyrdom vowed on 10 March 1616 to return to Scotland as priests.