The Ursulines of Jesus: The first Religious in Post-Reformation Scotland

Stephen McKinney

This article examines the arrival and the first fifty years of the first group of Religious to arrive in Scotland in the Post-Reformation period. Stephen McKinney is Professor of Education in the School of Education, University of Glasgow and visiting Professor of Catholic Education at Newman University, Birmingham.

The arrival of the first Religious Orders and congregations to Scotland in the Post-Reformation period initiated a new era in the history of religious life in Scotland. In the period prior to the Reformation, the male Religious were more numerous than the female.1 This was to be reversed with the establishment of Religious life in the Post-Reformation Scottish Catholic Church: the female Religious were to become more numerous than the male. There was another marked change in that the female Religious in the Pre-Reformation era were enclosed and there was greater diversity in the male Religious including monks, friars and canons regular. In the Post-Reformation era the female Religious were mostly unenclosed and active in a variety of activities, notably school education, pastoral ministry and social welfare. A number of the male and female Religious who established houses in Scotland in the mid to late 19th century came from France from the context of the revival in Religious life in the Post-Revolution period. Others came from Ireland, England, Belgium and Italy. Many of these Religious Orders and congregations made a significant contribution to Catholic school education and to social welfare and were highly influential in Catholic life in Scotland in the 19th and 20th centuries as the Catholic population grew.

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