Reformation: slow recovery


The medieval structure of the Scottish Church collapsed very quickly at the Reformation and it took a century before some semblance of proper organization reappeared. There had been priests in Scotland who went "underground" in 1560, and later some came from the new seminaries, as also Jesuits, Benedictines, Franciscans, Vincentians (sent by St. Vincent de Paul himself) and other religious orders. In 1650, six Scots priests met in Paris to petition Rome for some kind of definite leadership, so a Prefecture Apostolic was set up covering the whole of Scotland in 1653. William Ballantine was appointed Prefect Apostolic, not a bishop, but priest-in-charge of Scotland. In 1694, Scotland was upgraded to a Vicariate Apostolic. Both Prefectures and Vicariates exist in the Church today, usually in mission territories where the Church is young and still getting onto a firm footing before being erected into dioceses.

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