BY Martin Dunlop | September 10 2010 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Pupils make furniture fit for the Pope

Queen Margaret Academy youngsters’ craftsmanship will provide comfort for Holy Father

A PRAYER kneeler and chairs to be used by Pope Benedict XVI at Bellahouston Park next week, have been presented to Bishop John Cunningham of Galloway Diocese by pupils from Queen Margaret Academy in Ayr.

The four chairs and kneeler were designed and created by Queen Margaret pupils and were blessed by Bishop Cunningham at a special ceremony at the school last week.

The Bishop of Galloway said he was ‘delighted to receive and bless’ the ‘magnificent furniture’ and confirmed that it will be used by Pope Benedict and his personal secretaries in the Papal sacristy as the Holy Father prepares to celebrate Mass for 100,000 pilgrims in Glasgow in a week’s time.

“I express my warm gratitude on behalf of the Holy Father and Catholic Church in Scotland for the creativity, time and hard work that has gone into making this furniture and thank everyone involved in the project,” Bishop Cunningham said.


The project to design and construct the Papal visit furniture was commissioned by Fr Stephen McGrattan, former chaplain to Queen Margaret Academy, and part of the team of sacristans for the Papal visit.

He said the commission is a ‘tremendous honour’ for the school and the ‘enthusiasm and reverence’ shown by the pupils throughout the design has been a humbling experience.

“I have no doubt the Holy Father will be impressed by the beautiful crafting of these pieces of furniture and they will help provide him with a peaceful environment before he celebrates this very special Mass,” Fr McGrattan said. “The pupils and staff involved have done themselves proud.”


The furniture was built by senior pupils during the summer holidays, under the guidance of Michael Pratchett, retired former technical teacher, and was made from the pews of the now closed Good Shepherd Cathedral in Ayr.

Each piece of furniture includes an intricate carving of the Petrus Cross, which is associated with St Ninian. This has special significance as the Holy Father will be celebrating Mass on the Feast of St Ninian, the first Bishop of Galloway, who arrived in Scotland around 397AD. Pope Benedict’s coat of arms has also been carved on the prayer kneeler.

The senior pupils involved in the project were Cameron Brown, Amanda Houston, Darren McGrady and Lawrence Mitchell.

“We can’t quite believe that something we made will be used by the Pope before he celebrates Mass in front of tens of thousands of people,” they said.

“We feel very humbled to have had the chance to do this.”

Pupils from the school will be amongst pilgrims joining the Holy Father for the celebration of Mass at Bellahouston Park next week.

Pic: Paul McSherry

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