The Pope visits Scotland
Huge crowds greet the Catholic leader who is treated to
hymns, haggis… and Susan Boyle
The sun came out for the Pope's first official visit to Scotland
yesterday, as thousands of people lined the streets of Edinburgh
and filled Bellahouston Park in Glasgow to see the leader of the
Pope Benedict XVI said the UK was a "force for good" as he
arrived for his historic visit, the first stop on his four-day
trip, which will include visits to London and Birmingham.
Around 1600 police officers were on duty, over 200 roads were
closed, and two bullet-proof Popemobiles were used to protect the
pontiff and his entourage.
Shortly after arriving, the Pope drove down Princes Street where
he was greeted by thousands of people.
Alex Salmond, Scotland's First Minister, said:
"It's not just an excitement for the Catholic community in
Scotland, it's also the whole nation. Pope Benedict is coming here
first. It's an acknowledgement of Scotland as a nation."
As he waved to the crowds, the Pope wore a special scarf made
from a specially designed St Ninian's Day Papal Visit tartan.
Pupils from fourteen schools named after this Scottish saint,
who is said to have brought Christianity to the country in around
397AD, welcomed the Pope with a St Ninian's Day Parade on Princes
Arriving at Holyroodhouse Palace, the Queen's official residence
in Scotland, Benedict XVI was met by 81 Royal Archers, each wearing
a golden feather. Inside, he swapped presents with the
Queen. She gave him some prints of 400 year-old drawings, he
gave her an 8th century manuscript.
Haggis, neeps and tatties were on the menu for lunch, followed
by roast beef with yorkshire pudding and apple pie for dessert.
Then it was off to Glasgow where jubilant crowds jostled and
screamed as the Popemobile made its way through Bellahouston
Park. The Pope wound down the windows and leaned out to bless
babies and children as he passed by.
One boy who received a special blessing was nine-year old Anton
McManus, from East Kilbride, who had written to the Pope asking him
to help keep his cancer away. Doctor's discovered Anton had
cancer in his spine when he was only four and after hearing about
the Pope's visit to Scotland, the Primary 4 pupil wrote directly to
the Vatican for help.
Anton wrote: "I was really ill and now I am feeling better, even
though I can't do a lot of things my friends can do. I am
writing this letter to ask if you could bless me when you come to
Glasgow to help keep my cancer away as I think if anyone could
help, God can."
The pope was treated to a song from the Britain's Got Talent
star Susan Boyle before he celebrated an open-air mass with the
crowds in the park.
There were some protests on the day by groups of people who
don't agree with some of the teachings of the Catholic church, and
by some who are angry because in recent years, it has been revealed
that a lot of children have been mistreated by priests.
The Pope has apologised and yesterday said finding out about
child abuse in the church was a shock for him and a great
Teaching ideas and suggestions
The Pope visits Scotland
Benedict XVI speaks directly to young people in
The Pope ended his speech at Bellahouston Park, and his trip to
Scotland, with a special message for young Catholics.
"There are many temptations placed before you every day - drugs,
money, sex, pornography, alcohol - which the world tells you will
bring you happiness, yet these things are destructive and
"There is only one thing which lasts: the love of Jesus Christ
personally for each one of you.
"Search for him, know him and love him, and he will set you free
from slavery to the glittering but superficial existence frequently
proposed by today's society. Put aside what is worthless and learn
of your own dignity as children of God."
It is often reported that the younger generation is losing
interest in religion, that figures like the Pope are meaning less
and less to them.
But many teenagers turned out to greet the leader of the
Catholic church yesterday and put this assumption into doubt.
Matthew, 15, from St Andrew's school in Glasgow, said of the
"I think it's brilliant, it's the highlight of my life.
Scotland's been waiting for so long for this."
Several students from St Ninian's High School in East
Renfrewshire took part in the St Ninian's Parade in Edinburgh and
explained their excitement at seeing the Pope.
"In our school our faith is quite strong for everybody and we
all see meeting the pope as a great opportunity," said one
"It's an honourable experience for him to be coming to our
country and it's something we'll remember forever."
Another boy continued: "The main thing about it is seeing the
Pope and the influence he has all over the world. He's the main
figure of a religion that is one of the biggest in the world. Just
the fact of seeing him is actually brilliant."
Similarly, Jordan, 18, had travelled from Kilmarnock to take
part in this "once in a lifetime opportunity" to see the Pope.
"It really is a huge occasion to be here and see the Holy Father
in the flesh."
Not everybody feels the same.
A small number of protesters greeted the Pope. Some were
trying to highlight recent revelations about child abuse within the
church. There were banners visible in Edinburgh that read:
"Stop protecting paedophile priests".
Others said they objected to the cost of the state visit.
Pilgrims to the open-air mass at Bellahouston had to pay £20 to get
in and the church raised around £10 million towards the trip.
But taxpayers will be paying for the rest of the costs - somewhere
between £10 million and £12 million.
"Taxpayers shouldn't have to pay anything towards this visit as
most people aren't too bothered whether he comes or not, especially
as we didn't actually get a choice in him coming," said Ruth, 15,
from Castle Douglas High School, who did not attend the
"For me the Catholic church and young people do not go together.
The church is so old fashioned and unrealistic. They
don't believe in gays or contraception, or even women priests,
which are ideas that are really not with the times."
Other protesters waved gay pride rainbow flags, in objection to
the Pope's stance that gay, lesbian and bisexual relationships are
Elodie, 14, from Paisley, sees their point. She said:
"I've heard that the Pope is against homosexuality and I think
that's just wrong. Things like being in love and who you love
aren't things you can help. Religion should be about accepting
people the way they are."
But on the whole this was a day of peaceful celebration.
Matthew from Glasgow summed up the pride of the thousands of
pilgrims who went to greet the Pope:
"I wasn't born when John Paul II [the previous Pope, who visited
in 1982] was here but I'll be able to tell my kids about this and
show them photos and say 'I was there'."
Teaching ideas and suggestions