First Minister Hails Historic Papal Visit

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First Minister Alex Salmond has hailed the visit of Pope Benedict’s XVI as a special and historic day for Scotland.

The Holy Father led Mass at Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park in front of tens of thousands of pilgrims last night before flying onto London to continue his State visit.


First Minister Alex Salmond has hailed the visit of Pope Benedict’s XVI as a special and historic day for Scotland.

The Holy Father led Mass at Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park in front of tens of thousands of pilgrims last night before flying onto London to continue his State visit.

Earlier Pope Benedict flew into Edinburgh where, at the Palace of Holyroodhouse he and Her Majesty the Queen addressed a State Reception. His Holiness then travelled through Edinburgh by Popemobile, watched by an estimated 125,000 onlookers and preceded on Princes Street by hundreds of schoolchildren, preceded by pipers and historical characters charting Scotland’s journey of faith since St Ninian first brought the Gospel from Rome some 1,600 years ago.

The FM said:

“The pre-visit negativity in some sections of the media has been swept away by a popular tide of enthusiasm, as Scotland opened its heart to the Holy Father. It was a wonderful day not only for the Catholic community but for the whole nation, which made it a special and historic day for Scotland.

“The characters represented in the St Ninian’s Day Parade underlined the inclusive nature of modern Scottish society, where people of different faiths can come together, respecting each others badges of identity, in order to work towards a better society for all. That can be a lasting legacy of Pope Benedict’s visit to Scotland.

“I, together with Scots across the country, am deeply grateful to His Holiness for this visit, and he leaves us with the very best wishes of the people of Scotland.”

Rounding off the Holy Father’s visit to Scotland last night, External Affairs Minister Fiona Hyslop and Renfrewshire Provost Celia Lawson bade farewell to Pope Benedict at Glasgow Airport as the first day of his four-day State visit came to an end.

Ms Hyslop said: “This has been a fantastic day for all of Scotland. The people of Scotland can be justifiably proud of the warm welcome they have extended to the Holy Father and the image they have projected of Scotland to the world. The Scottish Government thanks the great many people involved in organising this historic visit and for making it such a success.”

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