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Bishop Nicolson

February 5, 2019

The authorities in Rome, perhaps understandably, took some time to address the new conditions in Europe. We can point to several key moments in the process, as it affected Scotland. The first was the establishment of the Congregatione de Propaganda Fide in 1622, part of whose remit was to provide support and resources for the struggling Church in the new Protestant states. The second was the appointment by Propaganda of a Prefect Apostolic for Scotland in 1653, with a certain limited authority, not a bishop but a Scottish priest, who could appreciate Scotland's needs far better than the cardinals in far off Rome. One of his first acts was to create a new post, that of Scots Agent, based in Rome, which afforded the Mission a valuable channel of communication and an ear and a voice in the Vatican.

 

The third and most important – indeed, game changing – move was the appointment of Thomas Nicolson as bishop in 1695, Scotland’s first bishop since the Reformation. Invested with episcopal authority he was able to bring real order and structure to the Mission at last, not least by issuing firm Statutes and allocating his priests to fixed stations.

 

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