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Desire for a Seminary on Scottish Soil

With the passage of time, the Bishops had some dissatisfaction with the seminaries on the continent. Too many students were leaving. A common problem was that they were not really prepared for the demands of the teaching institutes which they attended. There was also a desire to prepare men for Priesthood entirely on Scottish soil, despite the Penal Laws. This led to the creation in 1714 of the first seminary in Scotland on Eilean Bàn, an island on Loch Morar in the Western Highlands. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by government troops, the “Redcoats”, in 1716, as they laid waste much of the Highlands in punishment for the Jacobite Uprising of 1715. Its successor was Scalan, a name which possibly encapsulates not only the Penal Times but hopes for, and the beginning of, a better future for Scots Catholics. It was situated in the Braes of Glenlivet, a few miles from Tomintoul, in the lands of the Catholic Duke of Gordon who, along with its remote location, provided it with some security. Between 1716 and 1799 it prepared about 64 priests for Scotland at a crucial time. The house in the photo was built in 1767, the survivor of a succession of buildings there. It was constructed in the time when Rev. John Geddes was rector. His was a golden era when excellence was the standard: Scalan may have been remote, but it had a first-class library, and students were given a superior education to prepare them, mainly, to go to the seminaries abroad. The farm used the most modern methods for the time, and a few years ago, workmen doing extensive repairs observed that the most up-to-date methods of the time were employed in building it.

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