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Friday, February 06, 2015

The First Jesuit Mission to Scotland


Jan Jiří Heinsch (1647 – September 9, 1712)
Engraving by Wolfang Philipp Killian 1654-1732
Father Nicholas Goudanus (c.1517–1565) Jesuit and Papal Legate to Mary Queen of Scots
From Mathias Tanner, Societas Jesu Apostolorum imitatrix, sive gesta praeclara et virtutes eorum: qui e societate Jesu in procuranda salute animarum, per Apostolicas missiones, Conciones, Sacramentorum Ministeria, Evangelij inter Fideles & Infideles propagationem, ceteráque munia Apostolica, per totum orbem terrarum speciali zelo desudarunt / 1: Societatis Jesu Europaeae
1694
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Regensberg


Nicholas Goudanus  (c.1517–1565) was a Dutch Jesuit and papal diplomat and one of the early members of the Jesuit Order. He was a contemporary of St Ignatius Loyola

Born in Gouda in Holland, his surname was originally Floris (Florisz). He worked with St  Peter Canisius on the mission to reclaim German Protestants to Catholicism. In 1557 they had been together at the Colloquy of Worms.

Tanner`s Societas Jesu Apostolorum imitatrix celebrates his most important mission which unfortunately met with failure

It was a secret and daring mission on behalf of the Pope to meet with Mary Queen of Scots and the Scots Catholics  after the 1560 religious revolution which overthrew Catholicism in Scotland and established Calvinism as the religious establishment in Scotland

The events of 1560 meant that Mary ruled but did not govern. All communications with Rome were torn assunder

Pius IV needed to send an envoy to see what was happening in Scotland

The Pope issued instructions for the mission in  December 1561

It was a Jesuit mission and the first to Scotland under the new dispensation

Accordingly it is of major historical importance to the Catholic Church in Scotland

In June 1562 Gouda set off  by sea with two companions - one a Scots noble who was to enter the order, Edmund Hay

The mission is described in John Hungerford Pollen SJ`s Papal Negotiations with Mary Queen of Scots  1561-1567 (November 1901) The Scottish History Society Volume XXXVII
"Father de Gouda landed at Leith, June 18, 1562, and his adventures soon began.  
The fourth General Assembly of the Reformed Church was just gathering, and as Mary and her courtiers made no great secret of the envoy's arrival, there was soon so serious an outcry, that Edmund Hay thought it wise to make the papal envoy withdraw to the family house at Megginch in Perthshire, near Errol, where his father was ' Baillie '  
After waiting there about six weeks Mary sent him word that she would give him audience, and the Hays provided him with a mounted escort, which conducted him safely into Edinburgh, Avhere the queen's almoner admitted him, though unwillingly, into his house.  
Next day, which Father de Gouda remembered as the vigil of St. James (July 24), was a Friday, and in those early days of Calvinistic fervour, there was a custom, observed by the Protestant courtiers, of attending sermons on Wednesday and Friday as well as on Sunday. This was the moment Mary chose for the interview. [The sermon was by John Knox] 
De Gouda was secretly introduced, made the queen a little speech, and read her the Pope's letter. Mary said that, though she could follow Latin, she could not easily converse in that language, so Edmund Hay, and Father Rivat, de Gouda's French companion, who were waiting outside, were called in, and Hay became the interpreter, Mary talking to him in Scottish  
There were three main topics of conversation : the answer to be made to the Pope's brief , the delivery of the other briefs to the bishops , and the means for preserving Catholicism in Scotland .  
Mary's answer to the brief turned chiefly on her helplessness, which the Pope had not fully appreciated. As to the delivery of the briefs, it would certainly be impossible for de Gouda to do so in person. Mary even refused to give him a safe-conduct, assuring him that his only security lay in keeping quiet within doors. Any official letter in his favour would bring him into danger of a violent death, which she would neither be able to avert or to avenge.  
De Gouda, omitting the little exhortation on perseverance which he had prepared to address to her, had just begun to open the question of the means to be taken for the preservation of the faith, and to urge the foundation of some Catholic college, when the time for the sermon to end approached, and Mary, saying that the moment might hereafter come for the proposed measure, though it was not practicable just then, had to dismiss them hurriedly  
Father de Gouda was very favourably impressed with this interview. Mary's goodness and defencelessness struck him deeply, and not without reason. That he does not exaggerate in what he says on this point is evident from Randolph's letters. Mary renewed before de Gouda her oft repeated resolution, rather to die than forsake her faith, and when he left, he was full of admiration, almost of enthusiasm. 
The second command laid upon him was to visit the Catholic bishops and invite them to the Council of Trent, and this part of his task he found more difficult and less satisfactory than the former. Although he reports that they were ' for the greater part Catholics and men of good intentions,' yet he was disappointed with their lack of enterprise. 
Henry Sinclair, Bishop of Ross, for instance, lived in Edinburgh and was president of the Court of Session, a post of dignity, the holder of which might have been expected to give a papal nuncio some support. Yet Sinclair refused to see him even when Mary invited him to do so. He did not conceal his vexation at de Gouda being so rash as to send him a letter, and refused to acknowledge its receipt except by verbal excuses.  
The only bishop with whom he secured an interview was the Bishop of Dunkeld, and he succeeded in doing this only by disguising himself as a banker's clerk, and visiting the prelate in his retirement on an island in a lake, and talking at dinner about nothing but money matters 
De Gouda was so impressed by these precautions, that he says nothing of a short and touching opening of hearts that took place when the servants had retired.  
William Crichton on the other hand, who was a relative of the bishop and afterwards a Jesuit of some eminence, and then acting as de Gouda's guide, was so impressed by its warmth that he says but little of the disguises by which security for the interview was obtained 
When we consider that results such as these were the best that de Gouda could expect to accomplish, we can understandthat there was nothing left for him but to return home as well as he could.  
On the 3rd of September he succeeded, not without difficulty, in escaping from Scotland [disguised as a sailor] and in reaching Antwerp on the 18th. Edmund Hay crossed over soon after, bringing with him a band of young Catholics, Tyrie, Abercromby, Murdoch, and others, some of whom, after passing through the long Jesuit training, were eventually to return and labour in Scotland  
But that was not to be for another score of years, and meanwhile, Rene Benoist, Mary's chaplain, had left her in August, and Ninian Winzet, the last controversialist of the old school, came over with de Gouda's party.  
Thus for the time the prospects of the unguarded flock of Scottish Catholics and of their defenceless queen looked dark indeed. 
But de Gouda does not maintain that Mary's defencelessness was her greatest danger, nor do the documents of this volume prove that it was so. 
We learn that in the beginning of her reign she had with difficulty saved her bishops from prison for saying Mass at Easter-time . In the last two years of her reign nine thousand and twelve thousand persons respectively received Easter communion in her chapel without exciting notable comment. The change was due partly to her strength in defeating the Anglo- Protestant party in the field. But she would never have gained this victory, nor have been able to make use of it, but for the loyalty of her people. 
Though they had revolted against her in her absence, she had won their confidence by trusting herself to the guidance of her ministers. It may be true, as Bishop Leslie says, that she gave herself too completely to hunting, dancing, and other amusements. The fault, however, was upon the right side. It tended to reassure her subjects, to show that she had no ulterior intentions against their religion, it left time for the old order of things to reassert its hold upon their affections. 
The ' imminent peril ' to which the papal envoy does draw attention is the character of the ministers who kept her in leading strings. Some of these men were doubtless honest, except where their bigotry was so strong as to impede the right use of reason. 
As they would have murdered de Gouda, so they thought it right to banish from Mary's side every counsellor, who did not hold their particular religious tenets. But there were others about her who, though they were not bigots, cannot be considered honest men.  
Among the courtiers of this class the first place was given by papal diplomatists (as by many modern historians) to the laird of Lethington. 

De Gouda's paragraph of warnings should be read together with Mary's words, 'Whatever difficulty there is about religion, they conform in other things to that which I desire. Above all my brother the prior and Lethington show themselves well affected . . . [Lethington] serves me right well ' 
It is clear then that ' the most crafty of men,' as Laureo called him, had already won her confidence."

The mission had only lasted three months.

In his report to Pius IV, Goudanus was pessimistic. He wrote off the Bishops. The only hope he could see would be for Mary to marry a strong ruler, a Catholic prince



Francois Clouet (1511 - 1572)
Portrait of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots
c. 1560-61
Oil on panel
30.3 x 23.2 cm
The Royal Collection, Windsor
© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015

This is Clouet`s celebrated portrait of Mary in white mourning. To mourn  three members of her immediate family in France within a period of eighteen months. 

Mary returned from France to her native Scotland in August 1561 and it is probable that this painting was painted some time between July 1559 and that date.



Attributed to George Jamesone (c.1588–1644)
William Maitland of Lethington
Oil on canvas
73.4 x 57.5 cm
Thirlestane Castle Trust