BY Peter Diamond | November 1 2019 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

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EXCLUSIVE: Celtic to visit Pontifical College ahead of historic game in Rome

Club directors are expected to meet Scots staff and seminarians at a private reception in the college building.

Celtic FC have confirmed they will visit the Pontifical Scots College in Rome next Thursday as they take on Italian side Lazio, and Scots seminarians have revealed they have organised a mass for travelling supporters in the Eternal city.

On Tuesday morning the Glasgow football club confirmed to the SCO that they were ‘pleased to accept an invitation for representatives of the Club to visit the College.’

It has been over 60 years since the football club has played in Rome and it is expected that between 10,000 to 15,000 Celtic supporters will travel to see their team take on Lazio.

Club confirmation

A spokesperson for Celtic FC said: “We can confirm that we are pleased to accept an invitation for representatives of the Club to visit the College and we are aware a Mass will also be held for supporters.”

The Scots College have confirmed they are delighted to host representatives of the club ahead of the game and are looking forward to welcoming so many Scottish people to the city.

Fr Dan Fitzpatrick, Rector of the Pontifical Scots College said: “We are delighted that the club have accepted the invitation to attend the College and we are excited at the thought of so many Scots coming out to Rome.”

Significant

The College confirmed on Wednesday morning that they have still to finalise arrangements with Celtic and were unaware how many representatives of the Club will attend the College for a private reception.

“We have still to establish the finer details with Celtic regarding their visit and exactly who will be able to attend a reception prior to the game,” Fr Dan.

“Additionally, we have organised a mass for supporters in the city and it is will be celebrated on Thursday morning.

“It’s a big occasion and a significant event as its ben so long since a football club like Celtic has played here.”

Seminarians from the College, which is the oldest continuing Scottish institution outside of Scotland in the world, have been working to make the historic visit one to remember for travelling Scots.

Tickets

Celtic supporter’s who wish to attend Mass on the day of the game will be catered to a Pontifical Scots College welcome at St Ignazio Church in the city centre, near the Pantheon.

The mass for fans will take place at 9am local time with two Motherwell Diocese Frs Frank Dougan and Stephen Reilly the main celebrants, as seminarians provide music and assist at the altar.

We can also reveal that Celtic FC have given the college a number of tickets for seminarians to travel the Olympic Stadium to take in the match in a ‘celebration of Scottish connections’.

Eddie Toner, a former General Secretary of Celtic Supporter’s Association (CSA), has a son currently studying at the Pontifical College. Mr Toner said: “I approached Celtic’s liaison officer who put me in touch with Peter Lawwell about tickets for the College. As a member of the CSA I got them to flag it up at their meeting with the club and from there it has became a nice gesture as the club have made the tickets available to the College free of charge.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the club to acknowledge the Scots College and the Scottish Community which has existed in Rome for over 400 years.”

College links

Mr Toner added: “Because of my links to the College, a lot of supporters got in touch to ask where they could attend Mass on the day of the game.

“Therefore, I suggested to my son Edward that maybe the College could help with facilitating a Mass for the fans in a central place in Rome on the day of the game, and they have taken it forward since then.”

Celtic was formed by Br Walfrid an Irish Marist Brother in St Mary’s Church Hall, Calton on November 6 1888, and the mass in Rome for supporter’s is scheduled for the November 7.

Br Walfrid

Eddie added: “I think it’s important that Celtic and the Church reinforce those links and ties from time to time and it’s fitting that the mass will be so close to the 132nd anniversary.

“Hopefully it comes together and the mass is well attended.”

The Scottish Premier League Champions last played in Rome in 1958 when they played Lazio and attended the 80,000 papal audience. On that occasion Pope Pius XII gave them a personal greeting and said that ‘the Glasgow Celtic from Scotland were with us today.’

Dean of the College, Ryan Black, a seminarian in his final year is looking forward welcoming people from his home parish of St Francis of Assisi, Port Glasgow.

Excitement

Deacon Black said: “Obviously the student community is very excited about the prospect of Celtic coming to play in Rome and we are delighted to help organise a Mass for the support. It’s great that so many of them have been getting in touch to enquiry about a Mass and regardless of intent I think that people who come here can’t helped be moved by the presence of the Pope and so many Basilica and cathedrals.”

Deacon Ryan, who will become a priest next year added: “It can sometimes feel a bit isolated here in the North of the City so far away from home but it’s great that people can be reminded that Scots have been forging strong links with the city for over 400 years. Thankfully there is a big contingent from Port Glasgow coming out including family and friends and I’m looking forward to seeing them all.”

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