Scottish Tartan Designed to Mark Papal Visit

St. Ninian Plaid Commemorates Benedict XVI

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GLASGOW, Scotland, SEPT. 13, 2010 ( Scotland is welcoming Benedict XVI on Thursday with a specially designed tartan (or plaid), the traditional Scottish patterned fabric used above all in making kilts.

The Scottish Catholic Media Office reported that this limited-edition tartan created for the Pope’s visit will be named after St. Ninian, since Thursday is his feast day.

St. Ninian is honored in that country as he is acknowledged as the bishop who Christianized Scotland betwee the 4th and 5th centuries.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, archbishop of St. Andrews and Edingburgh, presented the tartan of St. Ninian for the first time to the political leaders of the Scottish parliament on Thursday. He gave it to Alex Fergusson, the parliament’s presiding officer, and to four other leaders representing the principal Scottish political parties.
The plaid was made, in a limited run, by two Scottish textile firms: Ingles Buchan of Glasgow and ClanItalia of Falkirk.

The design was created by American Matthew Newsome, director of the Scottish Tartans Museum of Franklin, North Carolina, who said that he was particularly honored, as a Catholic, by the fact that the model he proposed was chosen.

Newsome said that he «witnessed the visit of Pope Benedict to the United States in 2008 and can assure the people of Scotland that the events of next Thursday will live long in the memory.»


As with every tartan, colors will play a symbolic role in the St. Ninian plaid dedicated to Benedict XVI.

Newsome explained: «The white line on blue field draws upon Scotland’s national colors while the green reflects the lichens growing on the stones of Whithorn in Galloway. It was there that St. 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 colors of Cardinal Newman’s [who will be beatified by the Pope] crest. And finally, the thin yellow lines in the tartan, together with the white, reflect the colors of the Vatican.»

«In terms of the weaving, each white line on the green contains exactly eight threads, one for each Catholic diocese in Scotland,» he continued. «There are 452 threads in the design from pivot to pivot, representing the number of Catholic parishes.»

Cardinal O’Brian stated, «It’s a great honor 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.»

He added, «What could give [the Pope] a greater Scottish welcome than a new tartan created in honor of this historic visit?»

Upon receiving the tartan, Fergusson noted, «It is clear that a lot of thought has gone into producing this unique tartan and it is sure to guarantee a colorful, Scottish welcome for the Papal visit.»

Michael Lemetti, a member of the textile firm, ClanItalia, said: «I’ve been involved in the creation of some high profile tartans, including a bespoke design for AC Milan, but this one tops the lot!

«The tartan looks brilliant and is full of fabulous Scottish symbolism. I’m sure Pope Benedict will love it.»

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A picture of the tartan can be viewed here (scroll down):

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