Bishop Hamish MacNab was in a dither seeing to everything at the Rectory of St. Margaret of Scotland, the diocesan seat of Holywell. Cardinal Giovanni di Francesco was coming from Rome to visit, sent by the Holy Faither himself, Pope Benedict XVI.
“An’ speak proper English, lass,” he admonished the housekeeper. “Or the Cardinal no’ be able to understand ye’.”
“Och! None of yer blether, yer luurdship!” retorted the good Mrs. Fergusson.
“Sit ye’ down, yer eminence!” cried the Bishop when the Cardinal came in. “Aye, this is grand! Did ye’ get ma wee e-mail?”
“Indeed I did, Bishop. I am most happy to meet you.”
“Good heavens, mon! Ye’ no’ can speak proper English. At what heathenish place did ye’ study?”
“I took a degree from Oxford, Bishop. And I might add, I earned high honors for my mastery of the English language.”
“Oxford! Have ye’ no’ been to Scotland ‘afore?”
“I regret Bishop that while at Oxford, I did not visit Scotland. I thought of it as just North Britain.”
“Well, what do ye’ ken of the Scots Catholics, mon?”
“I assumed that most of those of our faith in Scotland were of Irish, Polish or Italian heritage.”
“Fair enough, laddie. But have ye’ no’ heard of the native Scots Catholics?”
“Why no. I supposed that all the Scots converted to the Protestant faith at the time of the Reformation.”
“Aye, but for a stubborn few. They held to the auld faith as they do to this day. Supporters of bonnie Mary Queen of Scots, they were.”
“May I surmise Bishop, that you are a descendent of these worthies?”
“Aye. We’ll visit the Isle of Barra to the west where Ah’ was once a wee bairn. There’s nothing more upliftin’ than hearin’ the Mass sung in the good Scots Gaelic.”
Mrs. Fergusson served tea and scones with marmalade.
“It’s fine reed clothes yer wearin’ yer eminence,” she remarked.
“Reed?” The Cardinal touched his cape as if to reassure himself that it was made of silk and not straw.
“Och! She means red, yer eminence,” explained Bishop MacNab.
After tea, the Bishop suggested that he and the Cardinal visit the portrait gallery in the Rectory library.
The two men made their way to the library, the Bishop humming
“Oh ye'll tak' the high road
an’ I'll tak' the low road,
An' I'll be in Scotland ‘afore ye'.”
“Now here’s three fine lads an’ a lassie,” said the Bishop. “Scots Catholic writers--A.J. Cronin, Bruce Marshall, Angus Peter Campbell, an’ Muriel Spark.”
“I have heard of Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson,” said the Cardinal as they came to the portraits of the two authors. “But they were Protestants if I am not mistaken.”
“Aye, but have ye’ no’ read Scott’s poem, The Bare-footed Friar? An’ Robbie Stevenson was a friend of Father Damien the Leper.
“An’ if ye’ read Kidnapped, ye’d ken that Robbie favored the Jacobite rebellion.”
“Aye. In 1745 the braw Highlanders fought to put Catholic Bonny Prince Chairlie on the throne of Scotland.
“Now here’s a fine braw lad,” said the Bishop pointing to the portrait of Gregory Peck.
“The American movie actor?!” exclaimed the Cardinal.
“Have ye’ no’ seen him star in the film The Keys of the Kingdom?”
“I regret that I have not.”
“Twas’ based on the book by A.J. Cronin. The lad played a Scots Catholic priest. Here’s a wee DVD of the film that Ah’ bought on eBay.”
“Thank you Bishop. I know I shall enjoy it.”
“An’ if ye’d like to be watchin’ more movies about the Scots Catholics, The Green Years an’ Mary of Scotland are on YouTube so they’ll no’ cost ye’ a penny.”
At last they came to the portrait of Pope John Paul II.
“There’s many a Scot who remembers the day back in eighty-two when His Holiness himself came to our bonnie land.
“We all came out to see him. The Scots Catholics an’ the Scots Presbyterians, the Scots Episcopalians, the Scots Jews of Garnet Hill, an’ the Scots Pakistani Muslims.
“The Holy Faither was fur all the Scots. An’ he spoke to us in our own Scots Gaelic.
“When he departed we all sang ‘Will Ye’ No’ Come Back Again?’
”He was braw lad.”
”Aye!” agreed the Cardinal. “That he was.”
Video of Pope John Paul II in Scotland
Audio of Pope John Paul II in Scotland
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