A traditional plaid Scottish design, or tartan, has been created to commemorate the Pope's visit to Great Britain this month. The North Carolina creator of the design said the interlocking pattern of stripes tells the story of the Catholic Church in Scotland while interweaving elements of next week's trip.
With just a week remaining before the Holy Father's arrival to the nation's two major cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, the Scottish Church announced the novelty of the first ever papal visit tartan on Thursday. Matthew Newsome, director of the Scottish Tartans Museum in Franklin, North Carolina, drew it up especially for the Sept. 16 occasion.
"Thrilled" that his design was chosen to be woven by a pair of Scottish companies for the trip, Newsome said that every element of the multi-color traditional pattern has a meaning behind it.
The tartan's "white line on blue field draws upon Scotland's national colors while the green reflects the lichens growing on the stones of Whithorn in Galloway," he said, explaining that it was there that the missionary St. Ninian arrived 1,600 years ago.
St. Ninian's feast day will be observed in a very special way this year as it coincides with the arrival of the Pope in Scotland.
Red lines also accompany the white lines, said Newsome, which is in remembrance of the colors of Cardinal John Henry Newman's crest, and thin yellow lines were also put alongside the white to reflect the colors of the Holy See.
He added, "(i)n terms of the weaving, each white line on the green contains exactly eight threads, one for each Catholic diocese in Scotland. There are 452 threads in the design from pivot to pivot, representing the number of Catholic parishes."
The design was presented by Cardinal Keith O'Brien and Newsome to members of Scottish parliament on Thursday afternoon. Every one of the 129 members received a tie or scarf with the design.
Cardinal O'Brien noted, “It’s a great honor to be able to hand over the first ever tartan created for a Papal Visit as a thank you to all the Holyrood parliamentarians who have been so overwhelmingly supportive of this visit, knowing it means so much to the Catholic community and many others in this country.
"I also intend to gift the tartan to the Holy Father only a week from today," he said, adding, "What could give him a greater Scottish welcome than a new tartan created in honor of this historic visit?”