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Bishop Hugh MacDonald and the '45

In a previous post you will have noticed the division of Scotland into Highland and Lowland Vicariates. This occurred in 1727. Rev. Hugh MacDonald was consecrated first Vicar Apostolic of the Highland District in 1731 in secret in Edinburgh. He was 32 years of age. He set up his own Highland seminary at the original site of Loch Morar, from where it moved to several other locations in a struggle for survival. His tenure was to be dominated by the 1745 Jacobite Uprising in which he played a notable part. He blessed the Prince’s standard at Glenfinnan reluctantly, aware that the outcome was likely to be punishment meted out again to the Highlands in general and Catholics in particular. In fact, he had urged Bonnie Prince Charlie to go back to France. Bishop John Geddes, in 1794, brought together his memories of the ’45, which included much from the stories told to him in the house he shared with Bishop MacDonald at Shenval in the Cabrach, his first posting after ordination. The following comes from that document:

“The Bishop proceeded to Moidart, on the coast of which near Borodale was the Prince still on board the vessel in which he had come from France, and was under the name and disguise of a French priest. The Bishop was introduced to him, and the Prince asked his opinion and advice. The Bishop candidly told him that the country was not prepared for his reception, and that his coming had not been expected until the year following; that any attempt at the present time would endanger his person, and probably ruin his best friends: that therefore his advice was to return to France immediately in the same ship and wait for a more favourable opportunity. This advice was little relished by the young adventurer, and the Bishop was little more consulted. All this I have heard repeatedly from Bishop Hugh McDonald’s own mouth.”

The photo shows the monument erected at Glenfinnan commemorating the the raising of the Jacobite Standard.

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