Bishop praises Mary, Queen of Scots’ Faith
Bishop John Keenan of Paisley praised Mary, Queen of Scots’ loyalty to her Catholic Faith in her final moments, as the monarch’s last letter was put on display at the National Library of Scotland.
By Amanda Connelly
The letter, written six hours before she was executed on February 8, 430 years ago, was put on display for only six hours for the purposes of preservation between 10am and 4pm.
The rare exhibition, which last took place in 2009, is to commemorate the anniversary of the death of one of Scotland’s most renowned monarchs.
Written in French to King Henri III of France at 2am in Fotheringhay Castle, Northamptonshire, she spoke of her forthcoming execution, the ‘crime’ being her steadfastness and loyalty to Catholicism that, along with her claim to the English throne, made her a threat to her cousin Elizabeth, who had her beheaded.
She pleaded that King Henri might have ‘prayers offered to God for a queen who has borne the title Most Christian, and who dies a Catholic, stripped of all her possessions.’
“I think there is something very comforting in this last letter of Mary, Queen of Scots,” Bishop Keenan said. “Within hours of her death she saw clearly what mattered.
“Possessions meant nothing now, her life had been far from perfect and fairly complicated, but she knew she had tried as best she could to be a faithful Catholic and that was her consolation for this life and her hope for the next.”
“The life of Mary, Queen of Scots has fascinated people of all ages for generations,” National Librarian Dr John Scally said. “She is one of Scotland’s most famous monarchs.
“The National Library is pleased to provide this opportunity to see the last letter she ever wrote only hours before her execution.
“This is a rare chance to see a remarkable piece of Scottish history.”
After becoming Scotland’s queen at only six days old, Mary grew up in France before returning to Scotland, where her short time reigning there caused only bad marriages, warfare and murder. After abdicating at the age of 24, she remained a prisoner in England for 20 years before her cousin Queen Elizabeth I had her executed.
Her son, James, became king of both Scotland and England.
This story ran in full in the February 10 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.