St Ninian’s Day (Scotland’s First Saint 397 AD)
Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, on the Feast of St Ninian September 16th 2010, to start a four day state visit to the United Kingdom. He remarked to journalists on route from Rome in a midflight press conference that “the State visit is substantially and essentially a pastoral visit, a visit in the responsibility of the faith for which the Supreme Pontiff, the Pope, exists.”
It is in this way that the visit should be interpreted and understood. As successor to St Peter, the Pope’s role is to strengthen the faithful in that same Christian faith whose seed had been first sown in Scotland over 1600 years ago.
Later, back in Rome he would reflect on his pilgrimage and referred to it as “my unforgettable journey to the United Kingdom,” indicating how the visit had touched him personally whilst consolidating the ancient ties between the Vatican and the British Isles: “It was an official visit and at the same time a pilgrimage to the heart of the past and of the present of a people rich in culture and faith, as is the British people. It was an historic event that marked a new and important phase in the long and complex relations between those peoples and the Holy See.”
The Scottish leg of his journey was characterised by the warm welcome of Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in Scotland’s historic capital, followed by a parade and cavalcade through Princess street, where “the joyful, festive atmosphere created by the young people and children gladdened the visit to Edinburgh,” effectively setting the tone for the remainder of the entire visit. Later that day, he celebrated Mass in Glasgow in the presence of many bishops, priests, religious and a great concourse of the faithful against the backdrop of a beautiful sunset at Bellahouston Park, within sight of the place where his beloved predecessor John Paul II celebrated Mass with the Scots twenty-eight years ago.
Cardinal O’Brien later remarked that “at the heart of your pilgrimage was the beatification of John Henry Cardinal Newman. We are happy to acknowledge the Scottish links of the new Blessed John Henry Newman – coming to Abbotsford in the Scottish Borders for relaxation and prayer and celebrating Mass on the occasions of his visits.” More significantly still, the Cardinal wisely commented that the words of Pope Benedict XVI uttered in his many speeches, homilies and addresses, “will be studied and used to fortify us all in the faith passed on to us through the ages by the apostles and delivered over these four great days by the successor of Peter himself”, thereby placing the words of Benedict XVI in the widest educational context possible for future reference and for future generations.
 Benedict XVI, Interview on Plane to Journalists September 16th 2010.
 Cardinal O’Brien’s Farewell Address to Pope Benedict XVI, Oscott College, Sunday, 19 September 2010 5:20pm.
Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI on the occasion of his Christmas Greetings to the Roman Curia. Sala Regia Monday, 20th December 2010.
 Benedict XVI, General Audience, Apostolic Journey to the United Kingdom, Saint Peter’s Square Wednesday, 22 September 2010.
 Cardinal O’Brien’s Farewell Address to Pope Benedict XVI Oscott College, Sunday, 19 September 2010 5:20pm.