Thursday 1 July 2010
As our school terms come to an end and the Scottish holiday season gets underway, I hope that as many people as possible will participate in the celebrations surrounding the visit to our country of Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday 16 September, ensuring that it is a momentous and memorable day. Many detailed arrangements have been worked out over the past few months and a clear programme has now emerged for what I am certain will be a day of great happiness and celebration in our country. I am grateful to all those in our school and parish communities for the patience and forbearance they have shown while we have awaited final approval from the Holy See and the Government for the Pope s programme.
I am also very pleased to be able to launch the logo, which the Scottish Bishops will use for the Papal Visit, the design by Scottish designer Gregory Millar is both striking and symbolic, it is a fitting emblem for a historic visit.
The Pope will arrive in Scotland on Thursday 16 September, the Feast of St. Ninian. Ninian was the 4th century Scottish saint who was one of the first to bring the Gospel of Christ to our land. Following his arrival at Edinburgh airport, that morning, the Pope will be driven to Holyrood Palace where he will be welcomed by Her Majesty the Queen. On leaving the palace at 12.30pm he will be driven in the Popemobile through the centre of Edinburgh. Part of his route will include Princes Street, perhaps the most iconic cityscape in Scotland. Here in the hour preceding his motorcade a celebratory pageant will have taken place comprising: Pipe Bands, schools with special emphasis on children attending schools named after St. Ninian and a historic pageant comprising characters dressed as historic figures in our national life. More information on the St. Ninian s Day Parade is available at: www.stniniansday.co.uk
I hope as many people as possible will attend and line the Pope s route.
Following lunch at my home, the Holy Father will travel to Bellahouston Park in Glasgow to celebrate a public Mass on the same site that his predecessor Pope John Paul II said Mass in 1982. I hope that over 100,000 places will be available through Catholic parishes, who will receive a pro-rata allocation based on their Mass attendance figures. I hope however that all those who wish to attend, whether or not they are practising Catholics will do so.
Finally, we should remember that Apostolic visits provide a rare opportunity for us to strengthen our faith and to show it to others. A generation of Scots of all faiths fondly remember and benefited from the last such visit in 1982. As we commemorate the Feast of St. Ninian who sowed the seeds of faith in our country, it is my hope that a new generation will be revitalised and strengthened in bearing witness to the message of the Gospels.
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