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Codes and Aliases

Communications with Rome were fraught with difficulty. Church matters had to be conducted clandestinely. This gave rise to all kinds of subterfuge. In writing letters, Latin and Italian were often employed but, when English was used, code words became common parlance: Rome was “Old Town” or “Hamburg”; Scotland was “Prussia”; a priest was a “labourer”, a bishop was a “physician”, a cardinal was a “merchant”; Scalan, the seminary (pictured above), was “the shop” and seminarians were “prentices”. Aliases were also used. Bishop Hugh MacDonald was “Mr Marolle” after a French benefice which gave the Scottish Mission financial support; Bishop Geddes was “Mr Maroch” because he was titular bishop of Morocco.

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