Report on the Scottish mission, 1674-07-21, [Rome]


Report on the Scottish mission, 1674-07-21, [Rome]


Barbary (unspecified or several locations)
Scottish Catholics abroad


Report on the Scottish mission. In 1668, PF received a report on the Scottish mission from the prefect Alesandro Winstero [Alexander Winster]. This report was discussed during PF meeting of 27 September 1669. After this meeting, the affairs of the Scottish mission were referred to this particular congregation. In the report the following subjects are being discussed: a) the size and location of Scotland; b) the rule and language of Scotland; c) the location of the mission in Scotland; d) the amount of people; e) Catholicism, errors and abuse; f) the goods of the church; and g) the many obstacles the Holy Faith faces in Scotland. According to the law it is prohibited to say or listen to mass. Priests face the death penalty, and the lay people face the penalty of having their goods confiscated. The heretics also force the Catholics to go to their University, where they run the risk of conversion. Catholics are not allowed to take public office in Scotland, because they cannot take the required oath, and the number of missionaries in the area is insufficient; the solution to the last issue is better administration of the Scottish Colleges overseas. To achieve this, they propose the following solutions: 1) that all Colleges should receive a visitation that makes sure that the foundations of the Colleges are respected. The Scottish College in Paris claims that it was not founded to produce missionaries, but to house Scottish students who want to study at the university. After finishing their studies they were free to choose a career to their liking. Now however, new houses have been bought and there are 10 students (not including the superior, prefect and servants), who are all willing to return to Scotland. The missionaries in Scotland also select the students on their willingness to return. The procurator of the mission proposes that since the Nuncio will not be able to make the proposed visitation, they will ask Cardinal De Bouillon [Card'le di Buglione] to visit instead; both he and his uncle (marshal Turenne), are very affectionate to the Scottish nation. The second College is in Douai, and whilst the prefect is not sure with what intention the College was founded, it is believed that it always created its own revenue; there used to be around 30 students residing at the College. Nowadays, the Jesuits (who are the superiors of the College), state that the College has hardly any money, and that the original donation was not made to the College itself, but to their mission; there are also few students still living at the College. The secretary informs PF that on 8 February 1667 it was decided to let S'r Intern'o di Fiandra make the visitation. At that time however, the city was conquered by the French and he could not enter; 2) the third College is in Madrid, and according to the Prefect [Paluzio Altieri] it was founded by a Scottish nobleman, colonnello Sempelio [colonel Sempill]. Its noted that there have been very few students at the College, and it is administered by the Jesuits. The secretary [Francesco Ravizza] states that in 1668 Cardinal Borromeo [Federico Borromeo] had the instructions to visit the College (he was nuncio at the time), but he does not seem to have done this. The procurator will ask the current nuncio to make the visitation. The fourth College is in Rome. The procurator believes that cardinal Barbarini had visited this college often over the past few years. In general, the procurator states that the Colleges give little assistance to the mission. The College of Rome, which had the best chances of creating missionaries, has been limited to just four students. This is caused either by the Jesuits who do not chose capable students, or by the superiors and ministers of the College, who do not educate the youth with prudence and kindness. For the other Colleges, (except Paris, where the youths do not have any obligation to become missionaries), there does not seem to be of much use for the mission, at least for the secular clergy. This leaves the mission only protected by PF, who proposes that regular visits are made, in order to make the youth serve the nation. The prefect also asks the visitors of the Colleges to substitute any students that are not suitable for the mission. The prefect asks the visitors to instruct them in particular in Christian virtues, controversies, cases of conscience, in administering the sacraments, rites, ceremonial practices, and preaching, and they should also all visit conferences during their studies. The procurator of the mission adds that in the College of Rome they no longer carry out these expectations. For this reason, the students are forced to stay for some time in Paris, before going to the mission. The prefect proposes that when the students are not instructed in the Colleges, the rectors of these Colleges should be forced to send the students (at the expense of the Colleges) to a seminary. When the students are sent back to their countries without any experience as missionaries, they are of little use. The secretary states that during PF meeting of 4 February 1664, it was proposed that the students of the Scottish College in Rome would be used for some time to take care of the city's souls, in order to send them to the mission fully prepared; 3) the prefect believes that it would be better if the election of students for the College of Rome would be done by the prefect and the missionaries. They should find a person zealous to his country and the mission, and should check if the Colleges actually followed the instructions previously listed; the procurator says that without this last issue, all the others would be neglected or not be enforced at all; 4) due to the number of missionaries being very small, in comparison to the needs of the country (every day the number of Catholics is increasing), the prefect deems it necessary to increase the amount of missionaries. These should not only come from the College of Rome, but also the other Colleges. Right now there are eight missionaries divided over five dioceses, and the others do not currently have any missionaries; 5) it is not right that the only Irish missionary is Fran'co Bianchi [Francis White], who has worked for many fruitful years for the mission. According to White they could easily find more Irish missionaries with help from his brother. The prefect already asks to reserve 20 scudi as travel money for three or four persons. It is hoped that PF deems these people suitable, as one of the two Irish Franciscans of the mission has already died. The procurator says that in the Highlands and on the islands people are more inclined to the Holy faith, and that there is a smaller risk of persecution. The procurator proposes that they will focus their efforts on these areas, because he believes that the conversion of the Lowlands depends of those in the Highlands. The Irish Franciscans who went to the Highlands spoke the local language, but now they all left. If PF decides to use regular priests they should make sure that they understand that they are subjected to the prefect of the mission, from whom they receive faculties and provisions; 6) because all the requisites have been used, PF is asked to give the nuncio to France the money to buy portable altars. The procurator says that there is a big need for chasubles and chalices. All the priests should have their own, as they live very far away from each other. It should be made clear however, that these items belong to the mission and not to the missionaries themselves; 7) there should be money reserved to buy books on controversies and devotion, as they will be useful for not just the Catholics, but also among the heretics; 8) the immediate time after their arrival is always very hard for the missionaries. They have used all their traveling money, and have to wait an entire year before receiving their next provisions. The prefect asks PF to send the provision for the missionaries to the prefect, so that the missionaries can start working directly after they arrived. If someone is unable to go to the mission, it is up to the prefect to get the money back. The secretary states that this problem was recently resolved, when it was decided that the missionaries of Scotland would be paid one semester in advance; 9) the prefect asks to set a date for when the provisions begin, so that the missionaries know how much time they have before being paid. According to the secretary, this is the day that they start to work for the mission. In the case of illness, its noted that PF may continue to support the missionaries; 10) because PF has always been very zealous towards the Scottish mission, they want to find a way in which the missionaries can live honorable lives. The English missionaries own patrimonial goods, or are supported by noble houses where they serve as chaplains; regular priests might be supported by their superiors. The Scottish Catholics that own patrimonial goods, are layman or part of an order, and only very few become secular priests. At this moment none of the secular priests have any patrimonial goods. There are very few Catholics in Scotland, and they live very far away from each other. The missionaries first stay at one house for a few days and then travel further to another one. Even though they are staying with Catholics, they use their provision to pay for their living, and often live among heretics. It is common that they are very lonely, start to get bored and become very silent. At mass, they hardly ever receive money from the Catholics. The Catholics are usually very poor, as they are excluded from public office and forced to pay the protestant priests. The life of the missionaries is very insecure and full of fear, and they are afraid to leave without the license of PF. After receiving their license they either have to retreat for a while to recover from illness, or they are too old or tired to be of any use for the mission; they are forced to live the rest of their lives in poverty. The Jesuits for example have always received a subsidy and always stayed in Scotland, even during the most dangerous times. Some pious people from Paris sent Irish missionaries to the Highlands, and paid them 100 scudi for travel and living expenses. As these priests did not receive any alms, they were not able to pay for their living. The situation in Scotland is not the same as in England, and the mission needs a stable base. They ask PF to help the mission, because without any help this church cannot exist much longer, and the students will abandon the mission; 11) they propose to use the revenue of one of the Scottish Colleges for the mission itself. They suggest the College in Madrid as hardly any Scottish students went there, so it is of little value to the mission. It also would not be against the wishes of the founder, because he simply wanted to help his Fatherland, which is better served with the mission itself than with the College; 12) though the missionaries behave themselves, they could (because of their isolated position), ignore their duty if they are not controlled by the prefect. They ask that in the case of missionaries who have received multiple warnings, to give the prefect (together with two missionaries), permission to limit or revoke the faculties of these missionaries; 13) they ask PF to permit the prefect (or someone nominated by PF), to stay in Edinburgh. The council is located in Edinburgh, and it is also where the Catholics have to go for the courts; 14) the procurator says that if regular priests would work for the Scottish mission, they should be spread over the dioceses. This is applied to the secular priests, and they should not be allowed to just stay in comfortable areas, and the houses of Catholics; 15) there are three universities in Scotland, one in Glasgow, Aberdeen and St. Andrew, as well as a College in Edinburgh. It is suggested therefore that there should also be somewhere for the care of missionaries. They suggest that this be assigned to the Jesuits; 16) because there is no bishop is Scotland to administer the sacrament of confirmation, PF suggests that on occasion, a bishop from Ireland should visit; 17) there are many potential students for the Colleges of Rome, Madrid and Douai, and the Jesuits should make their decision, without any bias; 18) there are many Scots outside Scotland that have sworn to become missionaries but never did. Therefore they should be forced to return to the mission or send a substitute in their place; 19) the rectors of the Colleges should not receive any students without permission from the prefect of the mission, or at least from the missionaries themselves; 20) the Jesuits should be forced to teach the students in Scotland; 21) the Catholics are forced to send their children to the schools of the heretics, where they run the risk of being converted. PF asks thats all missionaries to do something about this, and to either make sure that the children have Catholic schoolmasters, or to send them to the school of the mission; 22) because the schoolmasters cannot live on the 30 scudi given to them, they have to ask for a provision from the students. They propose to forbid the schoolmasters from taking anything from the children, and instead raise their income to 60 scudi. This was already decided during PF meeting of 4 February 1664, however the prefect was satisfied with 30 scudi, and money being taken from the students; it was this reason however, why many students were not able to go to the schools; 23) since the two schoolmasters are secular they should become missionaries, and two other priests should be found in their place; 24) the prefect should be given the faculties to consecrate chalices and portable altars, as there is no bishop in Scotland. Its noted that the prefects in Asia work in the same way; 25) the house in Dieppe (which has already been approved by PF), depends completely on PF for money, and for other problems which have yet to be explained by Card’l Antonio b. [Antonio Barberini Jr.]. PF should provide the money for at least one house in Dieppe or Cacen [Caen?]. In this way the Scots will be more eager to work for the mission. PF does the same thing for the Franciscan mission in Albania, the mission in Cairo, Egypt, in Tripolo for the missions on the coast of Africa, the missions in India by the Theatines in Lisbon and Goa, and the Capuchins in Lisbon who work for the mission in the Congo; 26) they propose to give the nuncio’s to Flanders and to France the authority to give dimissorial letters to young Scots. This will make the Scots more eager to become part of the clergy, and does not force them to travel far away. This will also make them more loyal towards their own Fatherland; 27) at the College of PF, the students learn way more about ecclesiastical matters, which they do not learn with the Jesuits. Therefore they ask PF to receive someone from the Scottish Highlands, so that in time this person can work as schoolmaster; 28) PF has already been asked on several occassions to send a visitor to the mission, but it has never materialized since they have not been able to find a suitable person. They propose to choose a Scottish or Irish priest, in order to not to create any suspicion; 29) PF decided to have a superior general in Scotland, but this did not happen as the Jesuits opposed the plan. This would have allowed one person to oversee everything; the secular priests never gave any information on the regular priests, therefore PF never knows what they are doing. The secretary found a few relevant decrees on this matter, one from 9 July 1630, and the other from 5 August 1630. Both are on the office of superior for the Scottish mission; and 30) its requested by the faculty to the prefect, permission to nominate a vice-prefect who would substitute him in the case of absence or death; this happens in Asia and other remote places. In the case of death, all faculties should be given to the oldest missionary until PF appoints a new prefect. The secretary found a decree about this on the missions in Asia which is being cited. (A longer summary in English is available in the transcription file.)
Date discussed: 1674-07-21
Additional comments
Gio' Brenano is named as 'hora Vescouo/ Vaterfordien.' This must refer to the bishopric of Waterford and Lismore, who is indentified as John Brenan.




APF CP 23, 176r-196v




For thoughts on the doubts adressed at the end of this report, see: APF CP 23, 197r-200r (database item 810) and APF CP 23, 232r-v (database item 813).
For further discussions on the other issues adressed in this document, see: APF CP 23, 201r-202v (database item 811) and APF CP 23, 222r-225r (database item 812).










Origin: [Rome]


PF, “Report on the Scottish mission, 1674-07-21, [Rome],” Early Modern Documents: Sources and Resources for Historical Research, accessed May 30, 2024,