A new cathedral cloister garden dedicated to the more than 100 Scots-Italians who died in a wartime tragedy has been officially opened by Glasgow’s archbishop. The memorial remembers those who were were killed on board the cruise ship ‘Arandora Star’ in 1940.
Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow, himself a Scots-Italian, says the new monument-- an interactive installation-- is designed to encourage people to “reflect on the great mysteries of life, death and resurrection.”
“What people will see and experience on a visit to the garden is a result of the generosity of today's Scots-Italian community who raised the funds to create the installation,” said the archbishop as the only remaining survivor of the tragedy, 91-year-old Rando Bertoia, listened to his words.
Most Italians living in the U.K. were detained after the outbreak of the Second World War. The ‘Arandora Star’ had been taking such internees to Canada. Off the coast of Ireland, though, it was struck by a German torpedo. About 100 Scots-Italians were among the 800 victims of the attack.
The silver-mirrored central monument, which organizers say is the largest in the world dedicated to the tragedy, stands next to a 200-year-old olive tree that was donated by the people of Tuscany, Italy. It sits next to the newly refurbished St. Andrew’s Cathedral, which was re-opened only last month after three years of restoration work.
Archbishop Conti was joined for today’s inaugurated by Alex Salmond, the First Minister of Scotland, who helped launch the project three years ago.
“This oasis of peace and contemplation at St. Andrew’s Cathedral is a magnificent tribute to those who tragically lost their lives aboard the Arandora Star during the Second World War and to the part the Scots-Italian community plays in the rich tartan fabric of our nation.”
Also present today was Giulia Chiarini, the Roman architect who designed the garden and monument, as well as the mayors of the Italian towns from which most Scot-Italians hail - Barga and Pistoia in Tuscany and Picinisco and Filignano in the Lazio region.
While the garden was being blessed, Scots-Italian opera singer Luigi Corvi sang Schubert’s Ave Maria, accompanied by musicians from Milan.