The ABC Tour in Scotland

One thing you notice in the cities of Scotland is the abundance of steeples. Perth is no exception.

One thing you notice in the cities of Scotland is the abundance of steeples. Perth is no exception.

Dear reader, in case you are not familiar with the ABC Tour, this is the part of our travels when we visit Another Blessed Cathedral. The ABC Tour is a series of mini-tours we have been doing for over two years, and we have witnessed some of the most spectacular art, architecture and antiquities imaginable.

We can see the Perth Cathedral steeple from our flat.

We can see the Perth Cathedral steeple from our flat.

Florence, like all her ancestors, was raised Catholic. She even attended a Catholic boarding school, which accounts for her exceptional preparation for post-secondary school. Upon entering a cathedral, Florence observes reverent moments of contemplation and dutifully lights a candle in remembrance of those who are the subjects of her prayers and blessings.

The Perth Cathedral, St. Ninian's, up close

The Perth Cathedral, St. Ninian’s, up close

I also stand in awe of the size, scale and sophistication of the art and architecture of the sites we visit, albeit from a different perspective. The symbols of Christianity are not new to me. I learned enough in my Protestant upbringing to comprehend both New and Old Testament teachings, enough so that I can appreciate the imagery in all of its glory. I am awestruck by the creations of artists and craftsmen who designed and built these great cathedrals. One cannot help but be moved by the grandeur or the works.

The Gothic ceiling towers over the crucifix above the altar.

The Gothic ceiling towers over the altar.

There is so much history behind each cathedral we visit. For example, here in Scotland, the Catholic Church rivaled the great monarchs and land barons in its wealth and power. After The Reformation when the Anglican Church broke away from the Roman Catholic Church, the church still shared the power and wealth of the country. In order to have a place in the church, one had to purchase a seat in the congregation. So it was that the poor were left out.

The Perth Cathedral interior is spectacular.

The Perth Cathedral interior is spectacular.

During the period of The Enlightenment, when scientific thought supplanted ignorance and superstition, the common folks in society demanded a say in how they were governed in the wake of the French Revolution and the introduction of parliamentary rule. This was true also in the way people worshiped. In 1843, there was The Disruption, when over 400 ministers and their congregations broke away from The Church of Scotland. When these congregations had the means, they erected their own churches as The New Church of Scotland. By 1929, a compromise of sorts reunified the divided churches. However, neither church regained its former stature.

The North Church behind our flat is only open on Sunday.

The North Church behind our flat is only open on Sunday.

The Church of Scotland used to preach from the pulpit the principle of Sunday as a day of worship. However, the schism in the church led more and more people to find other things to do with their time. With the advent of radio, television, organized sports and even Sunday shopping, church attendance in Scotland continued its decline. Contributing to this decline was the fact that women formed the majority of church membership, and women were denied the right to be ordained until 1968.

Even though we are not able to enter every church, like the Church of the Nazarene, it is still an interesting building.

Not every church is open to us, like the Church of the Nazarene. Still, it is an interesting building.

The decline in church attendance is why you now see many church buildings in Scotland that have been sold to private businesses housing restaurants, night clubs and offices. I was surprised to learn that today in Scotland, the largest denomination of churchgoers is Roman Catholic. I have learned a lot of interesting history on the ABC Tour.

8 comments on “The ABC Tour in Scotland

  1. You’ve got some breathtaking photos here! And I knew Florence went to Catholic school (I did too), but I didn’t know she went to boarding school. Did she like that? Celeste 🙂

    • Mike Lince says:

      Florence did not have fond memories of high school because in an all-girls environment, girls are catty. Since Florence hated that environment, she finished four years of school in three just to get out of there.

  2. In India, we do the ABF tour: Another Blessed Fort. On the one hand, it can get old (see what I just did there? lol), but then you remember how incredible all that history, architecture, and color is… LOVE the old cathedrals. Such spiritually rich places. Not just for the religion. 😉

    • Mike Lince says:

      ABF – I like it! I remember from history how a village was not officially a town until it had its own church. It is interesting that nowadays there are many more churches than there are congregations. The only way many of these historic sites are preserved is to sell them to business interests and use them for some other purpose. It might be cool to work in an office with stained glass windows. 🙂

  3. Beautiful Church. I love the story you tell as you display the pictures. I love religious history.

  4. reocochran says:

    I was surprised to look at this post, somehow my comment did not make it onto this wonderful comments area! I have been sometimes having a challenge with the library computer since it doesn’t hold onto the fact I am both on hotmail and wordpress at the same time.
    Anyway, I was blessed with your recent supportive comments in reference to a personal post.
    I am also excited about your being able to use your fine writing skills and getting accepted to go on this trip to Croatia! The tales will be outstanding, the photographs by Florence very special and I have not much information about the country so I expect to learn a lot! Thanks for this awesome news, and I am so happy for you both!

    • Mike Lince says:

      I’m glad you came back to share your comments because they are always appreciated. Thanks for the nice words about our upcoming trip to Croatia. When summer is coming to an end here in Scotland it will still be plenty warm along the Aegean Sea coast, and I know there will be plenty to write about. :).

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