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6B-ST-ANDREWS-CATHEDRAL-INSIDE

New chapter for cathedral and hierachy

Two days of fitting celebration and dedication have brought to a close a 20-month, £4.5 million renovation project, signaling a new chapter in the history of St Andrew’s Metropolitan Cathedral in Glasgow, and possibly the hierarchy of Scotland.

This morning, as the cathedral reopens it doors to the public for the first time, Catholics from throughout Glasgow and beyond can marvel at the restored and enhanced West of Scotland ‘mother church’ on the banks of the River Clyde in all its Gothic splendour-as seen this weekend by senior Church men, including Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Antonio Mennini, and civic leaders, such as the First Minister.

And, as the Bishop’s Conference of Scotland meets this week, news of change to come within it ranks is thought to be imminent.

Vespers

After recent light-hearted banter from within Glasgow Archdiocese that work on St Andrew’s would continue until the eleventh hour to complete the finishing touches on the extensive cathedral project, the weekend events went ahead smoothly and on time.

On Saturday Archbishop Mario Conti, the driving force behind the restoration project, welcomed Alex Salmond, civic leaders, representatives from other churches and those who had worked on the cathedral project, including artist Peter Howson who painted the St John Ogilvie canvas that adorns the Blessed Sacrament chapel, for a night of celebrations that concluded with Vespers. Many were seeing the dramatically lightened, brightened and newly adorned cathedral interior for the first time.

During his homily on the history of Catholicism in Glasgow that prompted the construction of St Andrew’s in the early 19th century, Archbishop Conti (above) said: “It seems entirely appropriate that the Archdiocese of Glasgow should take as its motto, the continuation of: Let Glasgow Flourish which we see on its coat of arms and on the face of the lectern from which the Gospel is proclaimed. Floreat Verbi Praeconio means literally in English, Let it (ie Glasgow) Flourish by the Proclamation of the Word.’

First Mass

Yesterday Archbishop Conti welcomed Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Antonio Mennini, the bishops of Scotland, bishops from England and Ireland and the clergy of Glasgow Archdiocese to the first Mass in the renovated cathedral.

At Sunday’s Mass and dedication of the new altar, which he designed, Archbishop Conti said that between the martyrdom of St John Ogilvie at Glasgow Cross in 1615 and the construction of St Andrew’s, Scotland ‘had seen the virtual annihilation of the Catholic Church in the southwest of our country, and the beginnings of its revival with the advent of Catholics from other parts of the mainland and islands of Scotland, and from the shores of Ireland.’

“Many contributed to the original building and many more to its restoration,” he added.

Nuncio

Following the blessing of the Sacred Heart Chapel at the end of yesterday’s Mass, the Apostolic nuncio formally presented his diplomatic papers to Cardinal O’Brien, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, who officially welcomed him to our land.

Speaking publically for the first time in Scotland in his new role, Archbishop Mennini told the congregation one of his first tasks will be to ‘strengthen the bonds’ between ‘the Holy Father’ and ‘the local Church.’

The nuncio is thought to be on the verge of announcing new appointments to the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland as three of its current members, including Archbishop Conti, have tendered their resignations due to either ill health or upon reaching their 75th birthdays.

-For a full report and photograph special on the cathedral reopening, see this week’s Scottish Catholic Observer out on Friday April 15. For a photographic preview, visit Friends of the Scottish Catholic Observer on Facebook.

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