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Pope Francis invited to Scottish seminary to mark 400 years of priestly formation

Pope Francis and Archbishop Cushley met on Monday (David Kerr)

Pope Francis has been invited to visit Rome’s Pontifical Scots College.

The invitation has been made to mark this year’s 400th anniversary of its founding as a seminary.

Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh said: “The Pontifical Scots College has a truly remarkable history and, so, it would be wonderful if Pope Francis could join us as we celebrate that past with pride while looking to the future with great confidence and trust in the Lord.”

The Pontifical Scots College in Rome was founded in 1600 by Pope Clement VIII to provide an education for young Scottish Catholic men who could not receive a Catholic education in their homeland after the reformation.

Inspired by the martyrdom of St John Ogilvie, the 16 students studying at the college vowed on 10 March 1616 to return to Scotland as priests.

Fr Daniel Fitzpatrick, rector of the Pontifical Scots College, said: “It would be a great honour for the college and for all the young men studying with us if the Pope Francis is able to join us to mark 400 years of priestly formation.

“I am sure the Holy Father¹s presence would be a great blessing to the College, a source of encouragement for our seminarians and an inspiration to other young men to join them here in Rome to continue the long tradition of the Pontifical Scots College.”

Archbishop Cushley issued the invitation on behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland and the Pontifical Scots College during a private audience with Pope Francis at the Apostolic Palace on Monday.

During their 40-minute discussion, Archbishop Cushley gave the Pope a copy of the 2015 pastoral letter “We Have Found the Messiah” in which the archbishop sets out a vision of how the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh can better evangelise the communities within its bounds.

“Pope Francis has such a warm, kindly and supportive personality and he was clearly very informed and interested in how the Catholic Church in our part of Scotland is fairing as we attempt to preach the Gospel to our contemporary society.”

“In short, Pope Francis was Peter­ the rock,­ such that during our discussion he continually confirmed my faith of by his words and by his example.”