Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien was due to unveil the world’s first-ever Papal Visit plaid today, when he presented the St Ninian’s Day Tartan to the country’s political leaders in the Scottish Parliament.
The tartan was handed over to the Parliament’s Presiding Officer, the Rt Hon Alex Fergusson MSP, along with leading figures from the four main parties on behalf of their parliamentary groups. This included the Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP, Iain Gray MSP and Annabel Goldie MSP. All 129 MSP’s were given a tie or a scarf by the Cardinal. The grouping was also be joined by two individuals bedecked in the design – piper Louise Marshall Millington and the designer himself, Matthew Newsome, who is over from North Carolina in the USA.
Matthew Newsome, Director of the Scottish Tartans Museum in Franklin, North Carolina, said: “As a Catholic I’m just thrilled that my design was chosen as the official Papal Visit tartan. I obviously witnessed the visit of Pope Benedict to the USA in 2008 and can assure the people of Scotland that the events of next Thursday will live long in the memory”.
"The white line on blue field draws upon Scotland's national colours while the green reflects the lichens growing on the stones of Whithorn in Galloway. It was there that St Ninian first brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to Scottish shores over 1600 years ago. The white lines are also accompanied by a pair of red lines, reflecting the colours of Cardinal Newman's crest. And finally, the thin yellow lines in thetartan, together with the white, reflect the colours of the Vatican.”
“In terms of the weaving, each white line on the green contains exactly eight threads, one for each Catholic diocese in Scotland. There are 452 threads in the design from pivot to pivot, representing the number of Catholic parishes."
Cardinal O’Brien said: " “It’s a great honour to be able to hand over the first ever tartan created for a Papal Visit as a thank you to all the Holyrood parliamentarians who have been so overwhelmingly supportive of this visit, knowing it means so much to the Catholic
community and many others in this country. I also intend to gift the tartan to the Holy Father only a week from today. What could give him a greater Scottish welcome than a new tartan created in honour of this historic visit.”
The Rt Hon Alex Fergusson MSP added: “I am very pleased that the Scottish Parliament is to be presented with this special tartan in recognition of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Scotland on St Ninian's Day. It is clear that a lot of thought has gone into producing this unique tartan and it is sure to guarantee a colourful, Scottish welcome for the papal visit."