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UK papal visit background: Palace of Holyroodhouse

September 13, 2010

As Pope Benedict began his apostolic journey to the United Kingdom, he was received by Queen Elizabeth II at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, her official residence in Scotland. The palace holds an important place in the history of the Catholic Church in Scotland.

Founded by King David I in 1128, Holyrood Abbey housed Augustinian canons for four centuries. In the fifteenth century, a guesthouse for the Scottish royal family was constructed near the abbey, and construction of the palace was completed in 1501.

Invasions by English armies damaged the abbey in 1544 and 1547, and a local Protestant mob destroyed its altars in 1559. King James II, a convert to Catholicism (and the United Kingdom’s last Catholic monarch), established a Jesuit college at Holyrood in 1686. Two years later, during the Glorious Revolution, a Protestant mob ravaged the new Catholic royal chapel there and destroyed the royal tombs.


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