CARDINAL AND FIRST MINISTER CELEBRATE 500th ANNIVERSARY
OF THE SWORD OF STATE
Scotland should never hide its treasures again, First Minister Alex Salmond said today on the 500th anniversary of the Sword of State for Scotland.
The sword was presented to King James IV in 1507 as a gift from Pope Julius II, and is one of the three elements of the Honours of Scotland, Scotland's Crown Jewels. The other elements are the Crown and the sceptre.
In the 17th century Oliver Cromwell ordered that all regalia should be broken. However, the Scottish Crown Jewels were hidden in Dunnottar Castle and successfully smuggled out to Kinneff Parish Church when the castle was besieged.
The jewels were again hidden after the Act of Union, when they were locked in a chest and lay forgotten in Edinburgh Castle. That was until 1819 when a group including Sir Walter Scott set out to recover them.
Tonight the First Minister will host a reception at Edinburgh Castle with the Crown Jewels on display, to celebrate the papal gift and its significance. Cardinal Keith O'Brien will also lead a service of commemoration in St Margaret's Chapel.
Speaking ahead of the reception Mr Salmond said:
"When Pope Julius II presented Scotland with the Sword of State he bestowed upon our nation great prestige and spiritual significance. This gift is an honour that should be treasured and celebrated. It reminds us that the nation state of Scotland was a filia specialis (favourite daughter) of the papacy.
"The Sword of State is with us today through a combination of guile, bravery and determination. These are qualities to be commended. But it is no longer time to hide our honours - it is time to hold them high with the pride of the red lion.
"Together the Crown Jewels have been used to represent Royal Assent to legislation in the Scottish Parliament, and it is in this way that they remain relevant to life in Scotland while reminding us of our past. They imbue everything we achieve with the power of faith, and are a lasting reminder of the trust that our government has to honour.
"The Sword of State is an emblem of Scottish resilience and form part the oldest set of Crown Jewels in the British Isles. Tonight I am delighted to celebrate their anniversary and to have the opportunity to give thanks for the papal gift that has huge significance for Scotland."
Cardinal Keith O'Brien said:
"The Sword of State is a powerful symbol of Scotland's historic identity. It is also a tangible reminder of the crucial role played by the Christian faith in the life of our nation.
"Faith in God is one of the foundation stones upon which our nation has been built while Papal involvement in our national life over many centuries has helped to cement our identity.
"Today our country requires the moral and spiritual compass which our faith provides more than ever before. I pray that in celebrating the gift of this powerful symbol of state and faith we gain inspiration from generations of Scots who have gone before us certain of the place of God in the life of our nation."
NOTES FOR NEWS EDITORS
1.The Sword is now on permanent display in the Crown Room at Edinburgh Castle. It is 1.4 metres long with images of St. Peter and St. Paul etched into the blade. The silver gilt handle incorporates overlapping oak leaves and acorns taken from the Pope's coat of arms.
2.The Scottish crown jewels, are the oldest set of Crown Jewels in the British Isles and second oldest in Europe.
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