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What is Scalan...?

What is Scalan and why did it come about? The following is the first of several short instalments which should lead us towards a better understanding of it all.

The Scottish Parliament met in Edinburgh in 1560 and passed what Catholics call the Penal Laws. These forbade the celebration of Mass in Scotland; priests were prohibited from being in Scotland at all. Further laws of a similar nature were enacted over the next 150 years. Why did this happen? New ideas about Christianity had been sweeping across Europe. These were at odds with the beliefs held for the previous 1500 years and this led to confrontation. In those days, Kings and Queens, and rulers generally, were members of the Church and such disputes inevitably involved them. Moreover, they saw them as threatening the unity of their country. They ended up taking sides and attempting to decide for their subjects whether they would follow the New or the Old Religion, as they came to be called. The monarch's word was law, and there were severe punishments for those who followed the 'wrong' religion, including the death penalty. The result, in Scotland, was that the Old Religion went 'underground': Mass could only be celebrated in secret; priests could not stay in the same place for long; Church matters had to be conducted with great secrecy....

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