Masterpiece A Big Attraction in Aberdeenshire



virgin mary

A Renaissance work of art, once dismissed as being near-worthless went on display to the public recently for two days in Aberdeenshire. Haddo House welcomed people from as far away as Inverness all keen to catch a glimpse of the lost masterpiece called “the Virgin Mary” which has been valued at £20m.

Art experts revealed this painting is probably the work of the 16th century icon Raphael.   Originally dubbed the Haddo Madonna, the art world thought it was done by Innocenzo da Imola.   Ian Jackson a staff member in Haddo House said “We’re absolutely delighted to see so many people taking an interest.   The fact it is a piece of art by Raphael, one of the greatest Renaissance artists, and it is available in a home, as opposed to a museum, is bound to generate great interest.”

showing virginmary

Editor’s note: Among the first visitors to view this work of art were our own community from Aberdeen. Catherine Laughlin and Margaret Pope may be seen in the picture above and Alda Civiera was somewhere around too.

Sent in by Margaret Pope rscj


Margaret MacRory, RSCJ (1862-1931)

Margaret MacRory, rscj

By Mary Shanahan rscj


sr margaretmarory



Margaret MacRory (1862-1931), religious Sister, was born on 18 December 1862 at Ballygawley, Co. Tyrone, Ireland, daughter of Francis MacRory, farmer, and his second wife Rose, née Montague.  Her brother Joseph, older by a year, became a cardinal and primate of all Ireland.  

Margaret had her early schooling with the Sisters of Mercy and from 16 as a boarder at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, Armagh.  She entered the novitiate of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at Roehampton, London, in August 1881. Before completing her noviceship she was sent to Le Mans, France, to work in the school of the congregation as an assistant-teacher until recalled briefly to London in 1884.

Margaret arrived in Sydney on 4 November 1885. She taught at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, Rose Bay, in 1886-94 and was professed there on 2 July 1889.  In Melbourne in 1894-1902 she taught at the congregation's boarding school in Burke Road, Malvern, and returned as headmistress to the nearby day school in 1907-10, after spending the intervening years at the new and short-lived school in Bourke Street, Sydney.

This tall, slender and fair Irishwoman was a dynamic teacher who gained the confidence of her students by her love for and interest in each one. In 1910 she was appointed headmistress of Rose Bay and under her guidance the school grew in numbers.  She brought the school curriculum into line with requirements for registration and invited government inspection.  From 1915 the students were prepared for public examinations. She founded an ex-students association in 1912 and by her personal contacts created the strong bonds that still characterize that association.

In 1923 Mother MacRory was chosen to open a house in City Road, Darlington, for Catholic women at the University of Sydney.  Her time there was broken by a call to Rome to attend a retreat for English-speaking superiors of the congregation.  She visited England, Scotland and Ireland where she strengthened her bonds with her brother Joseph, then a bishop, and travelled through the United States of America, inspecting liberal arts colleges run by the congregation.

On her return Mother MacRory was responsible for the building of the residence within the university for Catholic women on part of the land of St John's College.  She established its independence from St John's, whose rector had seen the new foundation as simply an extension of his college. She could not prevent the foundation stone from bearing the inscription 'In honorem St Joannis Evangelistae'—but the new hall, which opened in 1926 with Mother MacRory in charge, became Sancta Sophia.  Under her guidance the number of students increased and a wing of twenty-four rooms was added in 1927.

When in 1929 legislation established Sancta Sophia as a college within the University of Sydney, the council appointed her as its first principal.  She chose the crest of the college with its symbols of truth and wisdom.  Her own wisdom and understanding with her readiness to listen to others and to learn from them tempered her slightly authoritarian nature and won her students' respect and confidence.  

She died of septicaemia on 23 May 1931 at Sancta Sophia and was buried at Rose Bay.  In five years she had established a tradition of scholarship based on Christian values following the motto of her choosing—'Walk in Wisdom'.

 obituary margaretmacrory


This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography Volume 10 (MUP) 1986


Sent by Bernadette McArdle rscj

Scottish Diocese hopes to be a faith refuge

Scottish diocese hopes to be a faith refuge


On the windy promenade of Oban, a western Scottish port, the gray stone façade of a modern cathedral gazes out over a choppy autumnal seascape of distant islands, edged by anchored ships and rocky promontories.  When Brian McGee moved here last February to become the ninth Catholic bishop of Argyll and the Isles, he was struck by the stunning vistas all around him.   Since then, he's journeyed constantly from his base at St. Columba's Cathedral to remote, far-flung parishes, developing ideas for making his diocese a hub for pilgrims and spiritual seekers.   "Catholics are spread very widely here.   Scotland's Catholic Church dates its existence from a mission by St. Ninian in A.D. 397, and has traditionally been strong in the Western Isles, whose main ferry port, Oban, was the obvious choice for a new Catholic See when the church was re-founded in the 19th century.

pictures forfaithrefuge


With just 30 clergy, the diocese includes 144 islands spread over 12,000 square miles. It's considered one of Europe's most scenic areas, as well as one of its least inhabited, with just 10,500 Catholics making up 14 percent of the total population.   Even in the church, there are cultural differences between the firmly rooted parishes of Lochaber and the Outer Hebrides, and the more marginalized communities of traditionally Protestant Argyll and Bute.

McGee's diocese carries prayers and messages in English and Gaelic on its website, as well as stories of its holy patrons -- from the Irish St. Columba, who set up the first monastery in 563 on the tiny island of Iona, to the Australian St. Mary MacKillop (1842-1909), whose Scottish family originated near Inverness.

jean forfaithrefuge


"St. Columba's great gift was in the hospitality he offered everyone, and having only recently re-established a Catholic presence here, we're trying to continue this today," explained Sacred Heart Sister Jean Lawson, who runs the Catholic House of Prayer on Cnoc a' Chalmain, or Hill of the Dove, on Iona.  

"It's a lively time to be a Catholic here now, and it helps to know something ~about the church's history," she said.    "But there's also a deep tranquility here, even when the winds are strong and the rains heavy -- a sense of being close to heaven, ~which frees you to pray and reflect."

If the diocese is based administratively on Oban, its spiritual heart is on Iona,~ where the community founded by St. Columba (521-597) still lives on.   

The monastery endured Dark Age Viking raids, but survived as a center of ~ learning and spirituality, and helped spread the Christian faith to the rest of Britain.   When Protestantism was imposed on Scotland during the 16th-century Reformation, ~ Iona fell derelict and the Catholic Church came close to being eradicated.   

Some Catholic communities survived, largely thanks to their very remoteness, while traditional pilgrim links with Ireland kept local devotions strong.   But it took till the late 19th century for a Catholic Church hierarchy to be re-established in Scotland, and the often brutal Reformation events have left their legacy in clearly defined island loyalties.

Peter Kearney, director of the Scottish church's media office, and a native of Catholic Barra, thinks the Western Isles have their own distinctive spirituality. And though there's still some uneasiness between Catholics and Protestants, attitudes have clearly softened.

Things which are no longer seen in the rest of Britain, such as wayside shrines and statues of the Virgin Mary, are still common here, "Those seeking to get rid of these expressions of Catholic piety faced obvious difficulties getting to inaccessible areas like this. This is why these Catholic traditions remain so strong."

Born at Greenock to Irish parents 51 years ago, McGee agrees it's an exciting time to be Catholic in Scotland, particularly now that interchurch ties are generally better.

Jean Lawson rscj


Society Sacred Heart Half page

Light a Fire - Vocations ProjectLight a Fire - Vocations Project

The Constant Call to Change - Climate Change



RSCJ,Associates, Past Pupils, Colleagues

and Friends met

in Mount Anville

to engage around the

Challenge of Climate Change

Mary in conversation with Colin and Carmel


The afternoon was ably run 




You are invited to a talk and discussion on the topic of




Saturday 27th February 2016,  2.30 – 4.30 p.m.


Speaker:   Dr Colin Doyle

(Climate Change Policy Analyst, Member of the Climate Change Committee of An Taisce)



We are a charity working to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage… We’re passionate about Climate Change.








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