Keeping the Faith: the Catholic Mission in the Highlands

Sybil M. Jack


The best method of propagating the Faith in these Islands is, first tosend there missionaries knowing the Gaelic language, well groundedin virtue and inflamed with zeal for souls

wrote Oliver Plunkett, archbishop of Armagh in 1671, of the Hebrides which hehad just been asked to oversee. 1 Fifty years after the establishment ofPropaganda Fide and nearly a hundred since Gregory XIII (1572-85) hadestablished a congregation to oversee the needs of Christians in areas subject toheretical or non-Christian rulers, the provision of help to the Catholics inScotland was still unsatisfactory - particularly in the Highlands.2 In theLowlands, although Catholics were everywhere in a minority, there were still afew priests available. Significantly, when the division between the two areaswas made in 1732 was linguisticJ

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