IRISH FRANCISCAN MISSION TO SCOTLAND: 1619-1646.
Documents from Roman Archives, edited by Catha I d us G i bl i O.F.M. (Assisi Press, Dublin, 30s.),
Reviewed by Fr. RODERICK MACDONALD THIS is a book which will be I of interest to the student of history. both of the Church and of the Scottish Highlands. It is a collection of 75 documents dealing with the efforts of a small band of Irish Franciscans to revive the faith among the clansmen of Gaeldom during the first half of the 17th century.
The Highlands had been without a priest for more than half a century. They had likewise been without a Protestant minister with the exception of a few in the less remote parts. But they had kept the memory of the Faith green, and were ready to welcome with open arms any priests who came to minister to them.
The newly-established Congregation of Propaganda Fide in Rome sent these few priests for this mission, and undertook to subsidise them with financial aid on condition that they would send regular reports of their progress. This volume now contains the reports that reached Rome and survived. Unfortunately many did not reach their destination. and those that did were so full of stories of mass-conversions that they were scarcely credited. The Franciscans were suspected of exaggeration, and the subsidy was for a time withheld until they could substantiate their extravagant claims.
The reports tell also of the difficulties under which they laboured, and the frustration they felt at the restrictions put upon them by the Roman court. It is a fascinating account full of allusions to local history and customs as well as to the actual missionary work. When the full story is told. and when the same is done for the mission of-the few Vino-entians in the following years. it will make a tale of missionary endeavour equal to the best in the history of the Church.
At present we have this interesting collection of documents in their original language chiefly Latin, but also Italian and Spanish --and each is accompanied by an extensive summary in English. It is a welcome start on the study of a period and an area of which all too hale is known.