How Glasgow celebrated its second Pontiff visit

GLASGOW welcomed Pope Benedict XVI to Bellahouston Park in September 2010.

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Glasgow welcomed Pope Benedict XVI to Bellahouston Park in September 2010
Glasgow welcomed Pope Benedict XVI to Bellahouston Park in September 2010

It was the second time Bellahouston had opened its gates to a Pontiff, almost three decades after Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass with about 300,000 worshippers in 1982.

In 2010 about 70,000 people gathered in the city's largest park, on the first day of Pope Benedict's four-day visit to Britain.

Pilgrims had waited for up to seven hours to get a glimpse of their leader and the mass was beamed around the world to a television audience of about one billion viewers.

Months of preparation had transformed the South Side park, with thousands of yellow and white flowers – the colours of the Vatican – adorning the stage.

First Minister Alex Salmond arrived at the park wearing a tartan scarf and a yellow flower, while crowds waved yellow and white Vatican flags.

As the Pope made a 15-minute tour through the park, he was given a traditional Scottish welcome by the Strathclyde Police Pipe Band.

On his way to the altar, the Pontiff called for 11-month-old Maria Tyszczak to be lifted from the crowds so he could bless her.

Pilgrims held up their mobile phones to capture the sight of the Popemobile. There were cheers from the younger pilgrims – and a more emotional response from those who had made the journey for the second time in 28 years.

Reverend Mario Conti, then Archbishop of Glasgow, welcomed Pope Benedict to the city before the Pontiff finally addressed the Mass to deliver his message of Heart Speaks Unto Heart.

In his homily, he asked his followers to remain faithful to their religion in today's fast-changing world.

He finished his homily in Gaelic and said he would say prayers in the ancient language of Scotland which, translated, were: "God's peace and blessing to you all. God surround you and may God bless the people of Scotland."

Before the Mass, the crowds had enjoyed performances by singers Susan Boyle and Michelle McManus.

The Mass congregation sang Will Ye No Come Back Againand Susan Boyle again took to the stage as the Pontiff headed for Glasgow Airport.

The Glasgow visit was hailed a major success by the Catholic church and Government leaders.

The UK visit was designated a State visit because the Pope had been invited by the Queen rather than the Church.

A year later, pupils from each of Glasgow Archdiocese's 21 Catholic secondary schools congregated at the city's St Andrew's Metropolitan Cathedral to celebrate the first anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Scotland.

Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow led the celebration of Mass, wearing the vestments worn by Pope Benedict XVI at Bellahouston Park.

caroline.wilson@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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