EDINBURGH (Reuters Life!) - Pope Benedict paraded through Edinburgh on Thursday wearing a potent symbol of Scottish nationalism — a tartan shawl of a pattern created by an American in honor of his visit to Scotland.
Scotland’s Cardinal Keith O’Brien draped the shawl over the pontiff’s shoulders as he entered the popemobile for the drive up the Scottish capital’s historic Royal Mile.
O’Brien, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, and the pope’s private secretary wore similar shawls as they accompanied him on the drive.
The procession wound through the city’s Old Town and then along Prince’s Street beneath the ramparts of the castle towering over the city center.
The pope earlier arrived at Edinburgh airport from Rome and was driven to Holyrood Palace where the Queen welcomed him at the start his four-day state visit, the first by a pope to Britain.
The new “St Ninian’s Day Tartan” was created by American Matthew Newsome, director of the Scottish Tartans Museum at Franklin, North Carolina. He said he was “thrilled that my design was chosen for the official Papal visit tartan.”
In the tartan, a white line on a blue field takes in Scotland’s national colors, while the green reflects the color of lichens on the stones of Whithorn in Galloway where St Ninian — Scotland’s first saint — landed to bring the Gospel to the country over 1,600 years ago.
A white line with two red lines reflect the colors of the crest of England’s Cardinal Newman, due to be beatified by Benedict during his visit, while a yellow line with the white mark the colors of the Vatican.
Cardinal O’Brien said before the pope’s arrivals: “What could give a greater Scottish welcome than a new tartan created in honor of his historic visit.”
The tartan has become a symbol of Scotland and its historical roots, with the country’s various clans each having a separate pattern.