Scots flock to Rome for Benedict’s funeral

The retired Pope’s death saw an outpouring of appreciation for his pontificate across the world, with many of Scotland’s Faithful dropping plans and booking last minute flights.

John Patrick Mallon, the co-founder of Sancta Familia Media, attended Pope Benedict’s funeral, travelling from Glasgow to catch a 6am flight from Edinburgh.

“When I knew that Pope Benedict was going to die I knew I wanted to be there,” he said.

Mr Mallon said there was a ‘was a sense from people that there was an immense gratitude for his life’, with crowds chanting ‘Santo subito’ [Sainthood now], the traditional call for canonisation.

“I think there’s always been a great affinity for Benedict amongst people of my generation. We saw in him someone who was a grandfather-type figure.

“I’m sure Pope Francis feels the same way. It’s literally the only job you do without being able to talk to someone who’s done it before. In this unique circumstance, you had Pope Francis in the Vatican with his predecessor, and no doubt he did seek that advice.

“For the size Scotland is and the size of its Catholic community on the world’s scale, for the time of year and the quickness of it, I’d say we were represented fairly well, both in clergy and laity.”

Fr Edward Toner, assistant priest at Kirkintilloch, Lenzie, and Twechar, was one of the around-3500 priests who concelebrated the Requiem Mass.

“I looked around and the majority of the priests I was concelebrating with were young,” he said.

“I think that’s a real sign of Benedict’s encouragement and inspiration that he was to all of us.”

“I was quite moved by how many groups of young people there were. One French group of 15 could only secure a one-bedroom flat, but feeling strongly about being there for his funeral they all travelled down.”

Fr Toner remarked that the time of year in which Benedict died allowed many Scottish priests to visit where they otherwise could not, but the ‘great irony is that the seminarians in the Scots College were all home for Christmas.’

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