Fr Daniel Fitzpatrick

Rector, Pontifical Scots College in Rome

Guest blogger for Nigel Baker

Part of UK in Holy See

30th November 2015

Celebrating St. Andrew, Scotland in Rome

Arms of Cardinal Henry Benedict, Duke of York
Arms of the Pontifical Scots College, Rome

The celebration of the Feast Day of the apostle St Andrew, brother of St Peter, is one of the high points in the Scots College year. It is an opportunity to invite many friends in the city, as well as some from home, to join the community in celebrating both the College and Scotland.

The Pontifical Scots College in Rome was founded in Jubilee year of 1600 by Pope Clement VIII three years before the Scottish King James VI succeeded to the throne of England. Its original purpose was to secure an education for Scottish boys and young men in piety and in the Christian religion. Some sixteen years later, on the anniversary of the martyrdom of the John Ogilvie, it became wholly dedicated to the education of priests when all its students took the Mission Oath.

The establishment of the College represented another stage in a long history that linked Scotland, Rome and the Holy See. Part of that history is told in the mosaics and stained glass of the current College building. St Ninian the first Christian missionary to Scotland and founder of the first Church at Whithorn was, tradition tells us, educated in Rome, just like our students today. In the midst of the struggles between England and Scotland, the Scottish king, bishops and nobles appealed to Pope John XXII to recognise their independence in the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. Pope Alexander VI and Julius II gifted the sceptre and sword of the Honours of Scotland, the oldest regalia in the British Isles, in 1494 and 1507, respectively. These symbolic acts represented the religious and political bonds that had grown over the years and the presence in the city of Scottish pilgrims who were given shelter in the Scots Hospice in Rome.

St John Oligvie
St John Oligvie – Mosaics, Pontifical Scots College in Rome

In the course of the history of the College, it has witnessed, and at times been part of, the changing relationships between the Holy See and Scotland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom. Perhaps its most obvious significance was in its role during the Stuart exile in Rome. King James III and Pope Clement XI visited the College on the Feast of St Margaret in June 1717. Some former students of the College accompanied his son Charles Edward Stuart during the Jacobite Uprising of 1745. Charles’ brother Cardinal Henry Benedict was the Cardinal Protector and had a long association with the College.

The eventual repeal of the Penal Laws and the restoration of the Scottish Catholic Hierarchy 1878 led to a period of new relationships and the role of the College Rector as an agent for the Scottish Church in Rome with the Holy See. During that time some of the Rectors had very close contact with the Holy Father. As communication and travel improved this role diminished, but the number of seminarians and visitors increased.

Today the College continues to be a little bit of Scotland in Rome. As we approach the beginning of a new Holy Year and the 400th anniversary of the Mission Oath, the College looks forward to continuing its role as both a place of welcome for Scots in Rome and a reminder to the Church in Rome of the Church in Scotland founded by St Ninian and dedicated to St Andrew all those centuries ago.

3 comments on “Celebrating St. Andrew, Scotland in Rome

  1. Sirs,
    The free thinking people of the world are coming to terms with the realization that Gods do not exist. That belief is from ancient times, there is no room in this modern and scientific world for religion of any description. More people on the planet have lost their lives through religious disagreement than any other cause.
    It is time for an end to religious hostility with our fellow human beings.
    The figment God was created by man for the purpose of controlling others. Manipulation and control has continued through the ages and is still being used.
    By continuing to promote religion the people of our world will always be in conflict.
    Please stop trying to give people false hope, their prayers are never answered and their desperations for help only give them short term comfort.

Comments are closed.

About Nigel Baker

Nigel was British Ambassador to the Holy See from 2011-2016. He presented his Credentials to Pope Benedict XVI on 9 September 2011, after serving 8 years in Latin America, as…

Nigel was British Ambassador to the Holy See from 2011-2016. He presented his Credentials to Pope Benedict XVI on 9 September 2011, after serving 8 years in Latin America, as Deputy Head of Mission in the British Embassy in Havana, Cuba (2003-6) and then as British Ambassador in La Paz, Bolivia (2007-11). In July 2016, Nigel finished his posting, and is currently back in London.

As the first British Ambassador to the Holy See ever to have a blog, Nigel provided a regular window on what the Embassy and the Ambassador does. The blogs covered a wide range of issues, from Royal and Ministerial visits to Diplomacy and Faith, freedom of religion, human trafficking and climate change.

More on Nigel’s career

Nigel was based in London between 1998 and 2003. He spent two years on European Union issues (for the UK 1998 EU Presidency and on European Security and Defence questions), before crossing St James’s Park to work for three years as The Assistant Private Secretary to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. At St James’s Palace, Nigel worked on international issues, including the management of The Prince of Wales’s overseas visits and tours, on the Commonwealth, interfaith issues, the arts and international development.

Nigel spent much of the early part of his FCO career in Central Europe, after an initial stint as Desk Officer for the Maghreb countries in the Near East and North Africa department (1990-91). Between 1992 and 1996, Nigel served in the British embassies in Prague and Bratislava, the latter being created in 1993 after the peaceful division of Czechoslovakia into the separate Czech and Slovak Republics.

Nigel joined the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) in September 1989. Between 1996 and 1998 he took a two year academic sabbatical to research and write about themes in 18th century European history, being based in Verona but also researching in Cambridge, Paris and Naples. The research followed from Nigel’s time as a student at Cambridge (1985-88) where he read history and was awarded a First Class Honours degree, followed by his MA in 1992.

Before joining the Foreign Office, Nigel worked briefly for the Conservative Research Department in London at the time of the 1989 European election campaign.

Nigel married Alexandra (Sasha) in 1997. They have one son, Benjamin, born in Bolivia in September 2008.

Follow Nigel