St Ninian’s Tartan bringing cultures together
It is sometimes hard to be away from one’s country when something important happens in the land - and when Pope Benedict was visiting Scotland and England I was very aware of being far away and willing the visit to go well, despite all the negative comment beforehand. But in quite an unexpected way we had a chance to share a little in the experience and in the joy of those who had been in the UK during the visit – and it happened at our Craighead Awards Ceremony in Bucharest on the 16th October.
Alan McKell, our course Director, came to the ceremony in his national dress, his Scottish kilt – and as you can imagine this always creates a great deal of interest for those who are not used to seeing men dressed in kilts.
Then the gift which Alan brought for each member of the team and each member of the FCJ community (since we host the course in Bucharest) was a beautiful scarf of pure wool, made in the St Ninian’s Tartan which was created especially for the Pope’s visit to the UK.
The description of the tartan is interesting including the different colours, the green which is the colour of the plants and grasses of the place where Ninian landed, the papal colours and the colours representing Cardinal Newman, and the numbers of threads representing the dioceses and the parishes in Scotland.
Another source of joy was that Bishop Cornel who came to distribute the certificates at the Ceremony had been the Romanian Bishops’ representative at the papal visit in the UK, and it was so consoling to hear him speak in Romanian about the visit, how he had enjoyed it and how impressed he had been by so much that he had experienced in those days.
He also received a St Ninian tartan scarf – and seemed very touched by this. He mentioned the negative press cover that there had been in Romania during the visit, and assured the ILF participants that that was not a true picture. He spoke encouragingly about faith and justice and we felt that his visit to the UK has increased his interest and support for the work we are doing through the Integration of Faith and Life course, here in Romania.
I suppose union of minds and hearts grows through small gestures and moments like the one we experienced through St Ninian’s Tartan and so I look forward to many more moments like this when cultures will meet in joy and gratitude.