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Author Topic: A Historical Question - Was Scotland Catholic?  (Read 833 times) Average Rating: 0
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Studying_Orthodoxy
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« on: November 06, 2013, 12:51:14 PM »

Today we know that Scotland is a Presbyterian country. From what I heard they officially adopted Presbyterianism in 1560 as part of what is known as the Scottish Reformation.

However before Protestant ideas spread in Scotland was it a predominantly Catholic country? I ask this because I have heard of the Celtic Church and wonder if it continued to survive. Did this church survive or was it assimilated into the Catholic Church?

Furthermore, did the Scottish church have any special arrangements such as a special relationship with Rome, different doctrines, practices, or was Scotland before the 16th century a more or less standard Catholic country, both in lowlands and highlands?

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« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2013, 01:38:48 PM »

Today we know that Scotland is a Presbyterian country. From what I heard they officially adopted Presbyterianism in 1560 as part of what is known as the Scottish Reformation.

However before Protestant ideas spread in Scotland was it a predominantly Catholic country? I ask this because I have heard of the Celtic Church and wonder if it continued to survive. Did this church survive or was it assimilated into the Catholic Church?

Furthermore, did the Scottish church have any special arrangements such as a special relationship with Rome, different doctrines, practices, or was Scotland before the 16th century a more or less standard Catholic country, both in lowlands and highlands?



Scotland was a Roman Catholic country.  But it was subject to near constant warfare, particularly the lowlands which were constantly being overrun by the British and the Highlanders who sought control.  So it's people had a stubborn independent streak which probably made the Reformation more likely.  Note that during the 16th and 17th centuries there were attempts by the British to make the Church of Scotland Episcopalian in government but these failed.  There is a Scottish Episcopal Church which is part of the Anglican Communion but it is not the state church, for the Church of Scotland is Presbyterian.  So when the Queen goes to Scotland she is technically a Presbyterian during that time.   I believe that it was the leadership of the Scottish Episcopal Church who were the ones who sought union with the Orthodox in the early 18th century.  They sought to be received under the Patriarch of Jerusalem but then plans fell apart.   Do not forget the Catholic Stuarts, James II, the Old Pretender and Bonnie Prince Charlie, who sought to take the English throne with the support of France and the Roman Catholic Church.  I think that a lot of their support came from Scotland. 
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« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2013, 01:43:15 PM »

Today we know that Scotland is a Presbyterian country. From what I heard they officially adopted Presbyterianism in 1560 as part of what is known as the Scottish Reformation.

However before Protestant ideas spread in Scotland was it a predominantly Catholic country? I ask this because I have heard of the Celtic Church and wonder if it continued to survive. Did this church survive or was it assimilated into the Catholic Church?

Furthermore, did the Scottish church have any special arrangements such as a special relationship with Rome, different doctrines, practices, or was Scotland before the 16th century a more or less standard Catholic country, both in lowlands and highlands?



Scotland was a Roman Catholic country.  But it was subject to near constant warfare, particularly the lowlands which were constantly being overrun by the British and the Highlanders who sought control.  So it's people had a stubborn independent streak which probably made the Reformation more likely.  Note that during the 16th and 17th centuries there were attempts by the British to make the Church of Scotland Episcopalian in government but these failed.  There is a Scottish Episcopal Church which is part of the Anglican Communion but it is not the state church, for the Church of Scotland is Presbyterian.  So when the Queen goes to Scotland she is technically a Presbyterian during that time.   I believe that it was the leadership of the Scottish Episcopal Church who were the ones who sought union with the Orthodox in the early 18th century.  They sought to be received under the Patriarch of Jerusalem but then plans fell apart.   Do not forget the Catholic Stuarts, James II, the Old Pretender and Bonnie Prince Charlie, who sought to take the English throne with the support of France and the Roman Catholic Church.  I think that a lot of their support came from Scotland. 

My understanding re the Celtic Church is that it was assumed into the broader Latin tradition during the centuries after St Augustine became Bishop of Canterbury in 597. Within a century, at the Synod of Whitby, the Roman customs regarding Easter were adopted and I think this marks the beginning of the end of the Celtic church. 
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« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2013, 02:00:57 PM »

Thank you very much for your response. It is very interesting and I did not know that some considered going to the Orthodox faith.

It seems that it is very hard to find accurate information on the religious affiliations of Scotland prior to the Reformation. There are references to churches being approved by the Pope and by Catholic rulers but it is hard to tell to what extent Catholicism penetrated into the majority of the Scottish population.

I think there is a possibility that there were some remnants of Celtic Christianity left in the Scottish people well into the 16th century. It is doubtful the Celtic Church simply vanished overnight, it must have been a gradual fading away into the wider Latin worship forms and doctrines.

Would it be safe to say that most people would have attended Catholic churches in Scotland circa 1400s?
« Last Edit: November 06, 2013, 02:01:37 PM by Studying_Orthodoxy » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2013, 02:02:15 PM »

Today we know that Scotland is a Presbyterian country. From what I heard they officially adopted Presbyterianism in 1560 as part of what is known as the Scottish Reformation.

However before Protestant ideas spread in Scotland was it a predominantly Catholic country? I ask this because I have heard of the Celtic Church and wonder if it continued to survive. Did this church survive or was it assimilated into the Catholic Church?

Furthermore, did the Scottish church have any special arrangements such as a special relationship with Rome, different doctrines, practices, or was Scotland before the 16th century a more or less standard Catholic country, both in lowlands and highlands?
Margaret of Wessex (born in Hungary), Queen of Scotland, pretty much stomped out non-conformity with the the Gregorian reformed church of Rome-as the Anglo-Saxons stomped out dissidence under the leadership of St. Augustine, the first archbishop of Canterbury. She also introduced English as the language of the Scottish court, which is telling.

Her successor and descendant Mary Queen of Scots lost her crown and then her head for her loyalty to the Vatican.
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« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2013, 02:03:30 PM »

Thank you very much for your response. It is very interesting and I did not know that some considered going to the Orthodox faith.

It seems that it is very hard to find accurate information on the religious affiliations of Scotland prior to the Reformation. There are references to churches being approved by the Pope and by Catholic rulers but it is hard to tell to what extent Catholicism penetrated into the majority of the Scottish population.

I think there is a possibility that there were some remnants of Celtic Christianity left in the Scottish people well into the 16th century. It is doubtful the Celtic Church simply vanished overnight, it must have been a gradual fading away into the wider Latin worship forms and doctrines.

Would it be safe to say that most people would have attended Catholic churches in Scotland circa 1400s?

I am no expert on medieval Scotland but I think that they did.  The only real alternative would be Wycliffe and the Lollards.  I have no idea if they penetrated into Scotland at all. 
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« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2013, 02:04:56 PM »

So when the Queen goes to Scotland she is technically a Presbyterian during that time.   

How funny!
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« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2013, 02:42:17 PM »

 I believe that it was the leadership of the Scottish Episcopal Church who were the ones who sought union with the Orthodox in the early 18th century.  They sought to be received under the Patriarch of Jerusalem but then plans fell apart.

Can you provide any additional resources about this?
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« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2013, 02:48:41 PM »

 I believe that it was the leadership of the Scottish Episcopal Church who were the ones who sought union with the Orthodox in the early 18th century.  They sought to be received under the Patriarch of Jerusalem but then plans fell apart.

Can you provide any additional resources about this?

Search Google books.  The original text of their correspondence is there.   They had been communicating largely through the court of Peter the Great and were planning to send a deputation there to discuss things as I recall.   When the Tsar died suddenly in 1725, everything fell apart. 
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« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2013, 02:54:13 PM »

At first, all of Scotland was Catholic.  The Lowlands, being so close to England, was the first to become Protestant.  The Highlands, being extremely clannish and sort of closed off, stayed Catholic and eventually became Roman Catholic. 
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« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2013, 03:57:52 PM »

So when the Queen goes to Scotland she is technically a Presbyterian during that time.   

How funny!
Her daughter got (re)married in Scotland because the Presbyterians will remarry you but the Anglicans won't.
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Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
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If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth
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« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2013, 06:14:32 PM »

I believe that it was the leadership of the Scottish Episcopal Church who were the ones who sought union with the Orthodox in the early 18th century.  They sought to be received under the Patriarch of Jerusalem but then plans fell apart.

Can you provide any additional resources about this?

Search Google books.  The original text of their correspondence is there.   They had been communicating largely through the court of Peter the Great and were planning to send a deputation there to discuss things as I recall.   When the Tsar died suddenly in 1725, everything fell apart. 
Selected Correspondence between the Nonjuring English Bishops and the Eastern Orthodox Church, ca. 1716-1725
http://pages.uoregon.edu/sshoemak/325/texts/nonjurors.htm
http://books.google.com/books?id=V7g_AAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Correspondence+Orthodox&hl=en&sa=X&ei=SKB6UvfoD42ayQHdiIGYDg&ved=0CDIQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=Correspondence%20Orthodox&f=false[/quote]
The Orthodox Church of the East in the Eighteenth Century: Being the correspondence of the Eastern Patriarchs and the Non-juroring Bishops
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Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
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                           and both come out of your mouth
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« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2013, 06:34:35 PM »

Today we know that Scotland is a Presbyterian country. From what I heard they officially adopted Presbyterianism in 1560 as part of what is known as the Scottish Reformation.

However before Protestant ideas spread in Scotland was it a predominantly Catholic country? I ask this because I have heard of the Celtic Church and wonder if it continued to survive. Did this church survive or was it assimilated into the Catholic Church?

Furthermore, did the Scottish church have any special arrangements such as a special relationship with Rome, different doctrines, practices, or was Scotland before the 16th century a more or less standard Catholic country, both in lowlands and highlands?
Margaret of Wessex (born in Hungary), Queen of Scotland, pretty much stomped out non-conformity with the the Gregorian reformed church of Rome-as the Anglo-Saxons stomped out dissidence under the leadership of St. Augustine, the first archbishop of Canterbury. She also introduced English as the language of the Scottish court, which is telling.

Her successor and descendant Mary Queen of Scots lost her crown and then her head for her loyalty to the Vatican.

Mary's Catholicism did contribute to the loss of her crown, although there were other factors in play.  But she lost her head for plotting the assassination of Elizabeth I, not because she was Catholic.  Mary stood to gain her freedom and possibly the English throne by bumping off Elizabeth.  If Elizabeth was going to have Mary executed merely for being Catholic, she could have done it much sooner.  There was always plenty of evidence for Mary's Catholicism, but it took years before the English government was able to secure evidence of her plotting against Elizabeth.
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« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2013, 07:20:26 PM »

So when the Queen goes to Scotland she is technically a Presbyterian during that time.   

How funny!
Her daughter got (re)married in Scotland because the Presbyterians will remarry you but the Anglicans won't.

Well, they have Orthodox roots through Prince Philip, right?  Multiple jurisdictions, multiple disciplines FTW. 
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« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2014, 04:07:12 PM »

Today we know that Scotland is a Presbyterian country. From what I heard they officially adopted Presbyterianism in 1560 as part of what is known as the Scottish Reformation.

However before Protestant ideas spread in Scotland was it a predominantly Catholic country? I ask this because I have heard of the Celtic Church and wonder if it continued to survive. Did this church survive or was it assimilated into the Catholic Church?

Furthermore, did the Scottish church have any special arrangements such as a special relationship with Rome, different doctrines, practices, or was Scotland before the 16th century a more or less standard Catholic country, both in lowlands and highlands?



Scotland was a Roman Catholic country.  But it was subject to near constant warfare, particularly the lowlands which were constantly being overrun by the British and the Highlanders who sought control.  So it's people had a stubborn independent streak which probably made the Reformation more likely.  Note that during the 16th and 17th centuries there were attempts by the British to make the Church of Scotland Episcopalian in government but these failed.  There is a Scottish Episcopal Church which is part of the Anglican Communion but it is not the state church, for the Church of Scotland is Presbyterian.  So when the Queen goes to Scotland she is technically a Presbyterian during that time.   I believe that it was the leadership of the Scottish Episcopal Church who were the ones who sought union with the Orthodox in the early 18th century.  They sought to be received under the Patriarch of Jerusalem but then plans fell apart.   Do not forget the Catholic Stuarts, James II, the Old Pretender and Bonnie Prince Charlie, who sought to take the English throne with the support of France and the Roman Catholic Church.  I think that a lot of their support came from Scotland. 

It was the  a group of Anglican Bishops who refused to violate their oath to King James II,  in  who was overthrown by the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Since James was a Stuart, the royal dynasty of Scotland, which assumed the English throne after the death of Queen Elizabeth I, who never married and had no heir, under James i in 1603. The Stuarts were anti-Cavinist because of their experiences with the Scotch Presbyterian Church. James I's son, Charles I was overthrow and executed in 1649 by the Puritans, extreme Calvinistic Protestants who felt that the Reformation had not gone far enough in England and demanded that the Church of England be purified of what they considered Catholic practices and adopt pure Calvinism. After the death of he leader of the Puritans, Oliver Cromwell who had established a theocracy enforcing Calvinism on the English people, a segment of the army overthrew Oliver Cromwell's son Richard, and restored the Stuart monarchy in the person of Charles II, the son of the executed Charles I. Charles II died in 1685, becoming a Roman Catholic on his death bed. Since Charles ii had no heir, James II his brother assumed the throne. However James II was openly sympathetic to Catholicism and was overthrow in 1688. At this point, James II's daughter, the wife of the Stadtholder (Governor) William of Orange of Holland and devout Protestant was placed on the throne.
Those English Bishops who refused to violate their oath to James II formed a schismatic church that had its strongest following among the Scottish Episcopalians. They were called Non-Jurors because thy refused to violate their oath to James II. The Non-Jurors were more Catholic oriented than other Anglicans and did seek union with Orthodoxy.  However they sought union on their terms and were unwilling to embrace the Orthodox  Faith without reservation and the negotiations ended in failure. Another reason for the failure was the protests of the British monarchy to the Tsar Peter II that the Non-Jurors were disloyal to the monarchy.

Fr. John W. Morris 
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« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2014, 07:22:46 PM »

Some more info about these efforts?
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« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2014, 07:48:18 PM »

Some more info about these efforts?
Yes, please!  I like to learn about Scotland.  Much of this I have seen before, but much I haven't.
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« Reply #17 on: January 19, 2014, 10:55:52 PM »

Some more info about these efforts?

I suggest that you look at Runciman's The Great Church in Captivity.   As I remember the major problem was that non-jurors wanted Communion with Orthodoxy on their terms not the Church's terms. They had reservations about certain points of Eastern Orthodox doctrine and practice, including the veneration of icons,  the invocation of Saints and the honor paid to the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. They also proposed that the Patriarch of Jerusalem rather than the Patriarch of Constantinople assume the role of Ecumenical Patriarch. In the end the negotiations broke down because the British monarchy informed the Tsar that the Non-Jurors were disloyal subjects of the British crown.

Fr. John W. Morris
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