Happy Feast of St. Ninian, “the first apostle of Christianity in Scotland.” By now, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, has arrived in Scotland, only the second pope in history to visit Great Britain and the UK. Pope John Paul II visited England and Scotland in 1982. Below is a picture of the special papal tartan created for Benedict’s visit by American tartan maker and Catholic Matthew Newsome:
From Mr. Newsome’s blog:
The design incorporates white and yellow (the colors of the Vatican), white and blue (the colors of Scotland), white and red (the colors of John Henry Newman’s arms, who will be beatified by Pope Benedict XVI during the visit), and green for the lichens growing on the stones at Whithorn, site of St. Ninian’s church.
There are also 8 threads in the wide white line, one for each of the Catholic dioceses of Scotland, and exactly 452 threads pivot to pivot in the thread count, one for each Catholic parish in Scotland.
Judging from the comments on his blog, Mr. Newsome is already being besieged by requests for information about how to purchase neckties, scarves, kilts, and other articles of clothing in this tartan. I wouldn’t mind having a tie like this myself. Och, it does m’ auld Scots hairt guid tae see sic a thing!
Many people may not know this, but Scotland has a long and proud Catholic history. The document that is considered Scotland’s declaration of independence, the Arbroath Declaration, is in fact a letter from a delegation of Scottish noblemen to Pope John XXII protesting English violation of Scottish sovereignty. The nobles insist that the Scots have historically been faithful sons of the Church, and that if the pope does not intercede for them and against the English, God will judge him unfavorably. Andrew Leslie, one of the signers of the Arbroath Declaration, may have been a distant ancestor of mine. Another Leslie ancestor, William, became rector of the Pontifical Scots College in Rome and wrote a family history.
Welcome to Scotland, Holy Father! Viva il papa! Lang may your lum reek! (Scottish expression meaning “Long may your chimney smoke,” i.e., long life to you!)