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Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Pope and the Bruce

- marker for burial of the heart of Robert the Bruce at Melrose Abbey

Saw this story in the news last night ... Benedict XVI should address the papacy’s treatment of Robert the Bruce .... which made me smile because I've been interested in (the excommunicated) Robert the Bruce, how he figures with the Knights Templar, and of course, how he came to known of as "braveheart" (Burial honours Robert the Bruce ). Here's a bit from the news story ...

The papal visit to Scotland is a month away, but already the question has been asked: will Pope Benedict mention the papacy’s treatment of Robert the Bruce? This was nearly seven centuries ago, but Scotland would not exist as an independent country if Robert, the hero-king, had not dared to defy Pope Clement V’s command to submit to the English.

Year after year, the papacy remained adamant that Scotland should be subservient to England. Scotland’s nationalistic clergy, plus the hundreds of thousands of Scots who followed Robert, refused equally steadfastly. All were excommunicated (Robert in 1306).

Nothing better illustrates the passion of the Scots for self-determination than the ceremony of Robert’s crowning by four bishops at Scone on Palm Sunday in the same year, which took place openly in defiance of the Pope – and the English.
Robert’s spirit of self-determination united the people of Scotland as never before ....

Throughout Robert’s 23-year reign his excommunication was never entirely lifted .... Although he had been an excommunicant for over two decades, when Robert lay on his deathbed in 1329, he planned an act of penance and devotion. His “bluddy heart” was to be cut out of his corpse, sealed in a silver casket and put in the care of his friend and warlord, Sir James Douglas, otherwise known as “the Black Douglas”.

The gruesome remnant was to lead a crusade to Jerusalem and be buried in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. But neither the heart nor the Scots crusaders reached the Holy City. Catastrophe struck at Teba, near Malaga, where Douglas was killed in battle by Muslim forces. The heart was returned to Scotland and interred at Melrose Abbey, where it remains to this day ...

- In the 1995 film Braveheart, Robert the Bruce is portrayed by Scottish actor Angus Macfadyen. The film incorrectly showed him taking the field at Falkirk as part of the English army; he never betrayed William Wallace (despite having changed sides). - Wikipedia

As for the connection between Robert the Bruce and the Templars ... the Templars' leader had been burned at the stake in Paris and the order forcibly disbanded by Clement V, and there's the legend that some Templars moved then to Scotland and helped the excommunicated Bruce win the Battle of Bannockburn against the English (you can read more about Scotland and the Templars here at the BBC).

- the Battle of Bannockburn from the Holkham Bible, 1327-35

But back to the present pope and Scotland .... if he can un-excommunicate the SSPX bishops, why not the Bruce? :)


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