Carfin Grotto honours persecuted Scots with new altar

Carfin Grotto
Carfin Grotto

A new altar has been installed at Carfin Grotto to honour the Scots forced to practise their Catholic faith clandestinely through two-and-a-half centuries of persecution, from 1560 onwards.

The altar is named after the secret seminary in the Braes of Glenlivet, which operated from 1716 to 1799, in contravention of the Penal Laws against Catholicism. The laws forbade the celebration of Mass in Scotland; priests were prohibited from being in Scotland at all.

Fr Michael Briody, president of the Scalan Association, said: “There are several shrines at Carfin Grotto honouring the Irish, Polish, Lithuanian and Ukrainian immigrants who brought their own contribution and strength to the Catholic Community in Scotland.

“The Scalan altar pays tribute to those native-born Scots who kept the Faith through centuries of persecution, especially in The Enzie of Banffshire, Lochaber, Strathglass, ‘Blessed Morar’, the Southern Hebrides and Galloway. The Scalan altar is a worthy representative of them all.”

Bishop Joseph Toal, Bishop of Motherwell said: “The new Scalan altar recognises the courage of the men and women who gave witness to their Faith in the darkest and most testing of times.

“It reminds us that we must never take for granted the freedom we have to practise our faith in public and in private, and our responsibility to stand up for our fellow Christians around the world who face severe hardship, discrimination and persecution for professing belief in one God and his holy religion.”