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A Gift for Pope Francis: The Moderator of the Kirk takes Columba’s Iona to Rome

We are now able to announce that a special edition of Columba’s Iona, Rosalind K Marshall’s history of the island, has been produced at the request of the Church of Scotland to be presented to His Holiness, Pope Francis, on the occasion of a visit from present Moderator, Dr Derek Browning. Sandstone Press has been, and continues to be, delighted to participate in this important ecumenical occasion. In all, only 25 copies were produced. One entirely unique copy was Dr Browning’s gift to Francis, the rest being slightly different and intended as other gifts.

At this stage, I would like to pay tribute to our designers on this project, Gravemaker + Scott in Amsterdam (, our typographers in Newtonmore, Iolaire Typography Ltd ( and our printer in Poland, Totem ( , for working so speedily and well, and in such a collegiate fashion, to deliver this special edition in time. Sandstone Press contributed on a pro bono basis, of course.

Additional material in this edition includes the verse known as Columba’s Prayer in both English and Spanish. The link, below, will take you to an article on the Church of Scotland website that covers the occasion, and a few words from the author:

Robert Davidson

Sandstone Press Ltd

Dr Browning’s address to Pope Francis follows:

Your Holiness,

I greet you in the Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is also my privilege and delight as Moderator to bring you greetings in the name of the General Assembly from your sisters and brothers in the Church of Scotland.

Hospitality is the distinctive mark of the Christian Church. We are born out of hospitality and our faith spread because of hospitality. If we are in a position of privilege, it is better to build a longer table than a higher fence. In the Church of Scotland we ask of ourselves, and all our sisters and brothers, who is at our table? How do we share the message of forgiveness, mercy, hope and love with an increasingly secular world that no longer knows what we believe, or mistrusts us because of our past errors and narrowness?

My Church seeks to ensure that the ministry of our Church continues to reach out to every area of Scotland’s life, and to reaffirm that the strength of our Church, is to be found at the local, parish level. Prayers connect us to God and the faith we profess; practical compassion, motivated by an honest and robust engagement with civil and other authorities empowers us to speak out for the poor, refugees and migrants, for the marginalised in all our communities, and for the better stewarding of the creation that is entrusted to our care.

Next year the Church of Scotland celebrates fifty years of women ordained to the ministry of Word and Sacrament; two years ago we celebrated fifty years of women being ordained to the eldership; and women have been set apart as deacons for one hundred and twenty-nine years. The ministry of the diaconate in the Church of Scotland is a collaborative ministry, which seeks to build bridges between church and community. Our diaconate works not only in parishes but also in chaplaincies, counselling, with asylum seekers, and meeting spiritual needs. Now ordained since 2002, Deacons, both women and men, play a welcome part in the courts of our Church sharing their experience and wisdom. Your Holiness, we note in your Church the commission you have encouraged to study the issue of women deacons and their ministry in the Early Church, and we look forward with interest to its conclusions.

The Church of Scotland will continue to advocate models of gender justice and crusade against violence and discrimination against women, and celebrate the contributions and place of women, alongside men, in our churches and communities.

The Church of Scotland maintains its active concern about issues relating to human trafficking and modern day slavery, and continues to express concern about the fate of migrants and refugees, fleeing from their home countries, and finding a mixed welcome in countries where they seek new homes away from persecution, war and hunger.

In this year of the 500th anniversary of the German Reformation, the Church of Scotland recognises its roots in the many European Reformations. We acknowledge openly our doctrinal and governance differences, but gladly note the complementary dimensions of our shared faith within the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, especially in the documents Together towards Life, and Evangelli Gaudium, and the call to participate in the mission of God. We ask that where relations between our Churches have become less focussed at local and national levels, Your Holiness would join with me to call our Churches to work together for the common good, particularly in the face of national and international anxiety expressed in sectarianism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

A wise man recently told me: “When we speak, we must speak the truth. Then we must speak the truth in love. But first, we must speak.” Your Holiness, in our speech together, may truth and love shine out, not only in our words, but also in our actions. We would also be bold to ask that if it were possible you might make a visit to Scotland at some time, where you would be welcomed with open arms.

As you continue ministering in the name of Jesus Christ, we continue to pray that God will bless and use you generously. May God’s richest blessings be upon you, and the light of Christ illuminate your path, and the gentleness of the Holy Spirit encompass you day and night.

Rosalind K. Marshall

Rosalind K. Marshall