Jesuits celebrate restoration in Scotland

 Senior representatives of Scotland's Catholic hierarchy will be joining the Provincial of the British Jesuits on Sunday, 7 September, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Restoration of the Society of Jesus in Britain. Archbishops Keith O'Brien of Edinburgh and Mario Conti of Glasgow will join Fr David Smolira SJ, other Scottish bishops and clergy from throughout Scotland at St Aloysius' Church in Glasgow. The event will be marking Pope Pius VII's decision, in 1803, to allow the Jesuits of Britain to be affiliated to the Russian Province, which led the way for the full restoration of the Society in 1814. Pope Clement XIV had suppressed the Society of Jesus in 1773 in response to concerns about its influence expressed by several European Heads of State. The English Province (which included Jesuits working in Wales and Scotland) was the first to be restored, with former Jesuits retaking their vows at Stonyhurst College in May 1803. Today in Scotland, in addition to looking after five parishes, including the remote Orkney Islands, the Jesuits' principal work is in responding to people's spiritual needs. The Ignatian Spirituality Centre, for instance, is a haven of peace in the midst of the busy city of Glasgow, providing a tranquil environment for prayer, contemplation, retreats and courses on Ignatian Spirituality. In paying tribute to the Jesuits in Scotland recently, the Archbishop of Glasgow, the Most Reverend Mario Conti, spoke of the "bold" way in which the Order has served the Church. "In Scotland, apart from the secular priests, no other society of ordained men has contributed so much to the survival and revival of the Catholic faith", the archbishop said. Scotland's association with the Society of Jesus goes back almost to its foundation by St Ignatius Loyola in 1540. Within less than a decade, Jesuits were to be found in Scotland, and Mary, Queen of Scots, received the Jesuit priest, Nicholas of Goulda, as Pope Pius IV's representative in 1561. Many Jesuits continued working in Scotland throughout the post-Reformation period, and by the middle of the 17th century, the majority of priests remaining in Scotland were missionaries belonging to the Society of Jesus and other religious orders. By 1800, it is estimated there were around 30,000 Catholics in Scotland, but this number increased dramatically with the immigration of Irish Catholics in the early 19th Century. The Jesuits established St Aloysius College in Glasgow in 1859, and the nearby St Aloysius' Church was built in 1910 to a late Renaissance design by the Belgian architect Charles Menart. The Mass at St Aloysius' Church in Glasgow (Rose Street, Garnethill) will be celebrated at 12 noon on Sunday, 7 September 2003.

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