Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

New tartan to mark Pope's visit unveiled

Cardinal Keith O'Brien and piper Louise Marshall Millington
Image caption Cardinal Keith O'Brien and piper Louise Marshall Millington unveil the world's first papal visit tartan

A tartan created in honour of the Pope's visit to Scotland has been unveiled in Edinburgh.

Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien presented the St Ninian's Day Tartan to the country's political leaders at the Scottish Parliament.

The tartan will also be given to Pope Benedict XVI when he visits Scotland next Thursday, which is St Ninian's Day.

The limited edition tartan was designed by Matthew Newsome.

Mr Newsome travelled to Scotland for the event from North Carolina in the US where he works.

He said he drew on Roman Catholic and Scottish history to create the blue, white, green, red and yellow design.

Mr Newsome, director of the Scottish Tartans Museum in Franklin, North Carolina, said: "As a Catholic, I'm just thrilled that my design was chosen as the official papal visit tartan.

"I obviously witnessed the visit of Pope Benedict to the USA in 2008 and can assure the people of Scotland that the events of next Thursday will live long in the memory.

"The white line on blue field draws upon Scotland's national colours while the green reflects the lichens growing on the stones of Whithorn in Galloway.

"It was there that Ninian first brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to Scottish shores over 1,600 years ago.

"The white lines are also accompanied by a pair of red lines, reflecting the colours of Cardinal Newman's crest. And finally, the thin yellow lines in the tartan, together with the white, reflect the colours of the Vatican."

Each white line on the green contains exactly eight threads, one for each Catholic diocese in Scotland.

Four main parties

There are 452 threads in the design from pivot to pivot, representing the number of Catholic parishes.

The tartan has been created in conjunction with two Scottish companies - Ingles Buchan of Glasgow and Clan Italia of Falkirk.

Image caption The SNP's Alex Salmond and Labour's Iain Gray wore tartan ties at FMQs

It was handed over to the Presiding Officer, the Alex Fergusson MSP, along with leading figures from the four main parties on behalf of their parliamentary groups.

This included First Minister Alex Salmond of the SNP, Labour's Iain Gray and Annabel Goldie from the Conservative Party.

All 129 MSPs were also given a tie or scarf by the cardinal.

Cardinal O'Brien said: "It's a great honour to be able to hand over the first ever tartan created for a papal visit as a thank you to all the Holyrood parliamentarians who have been so overwhelmingly supportive of this visit, knowing it means so much to the Catholic community and many others in this country.

"I also intend to gift the tartan to the Holy Father only a week from today.

"What could give him a greater Scottish welcome than a new tartan created in honour of this historic visit?"

The Pope is due to begin his visit on Thursday, 16 September in Edinburgh where he will be received by the Queen before celebrating Mass at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow.

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