Making Roman Catholic priests in the nineteenth century: a prosopographical study of Scottish Mission’s France-trained students and seminarian social identities, 1818-1878
Saarinen, Iida Maria
MetadataShow full item record
In the nineteenth century, Scottish Catholic priests were not simply trained; they were made. Preferably selected and intensely trained since boyhood, seminarians – prieststo- be – were set on a lengthy career path which expected them to become exemplary Christians, brilliant scholars, disciplined (celibate) males, loyal subjects of the Pope, and approachable ‘fathers’ to their parishioners in a Presbyterian country historically unsympathetic to their faith. By the time they left the seminary system they had been thoroughly transformed: from children to adults, from boys to men, from students to professionals and from, in many cases, labourers’ and shoemakers’ sons to gentlemen. Aspects of their lives were permanently affected by the process of moulding them into missionary priests in an immersive environment in a foreign country. But regardless of their unique experience, seminarians have rarely been the focus of historical scholarship. This thesis examines the lives and the social identities of a subsection of the Scottish Mission’s seminarians: those trained on French soil between 1818 and 1878 inclusive. It uses the prosopographical method to analyse the lives of a population of 225 France-trained individuals before, beyond and during their study migration abroad. It details the system for the education of missionary priests for Scotland before concentrating specifically on France and the post-Revolution setting of the students’ further studies there, previously undocumented by historians. It addresses the Gallican and Sulpician peculiarities of the French ecclesiastical culture reigning at the seminaries and the impact of the instability of the host society on the Scots seminarians. By using the lenses of gender, class, nation and race, it addresses different intertwining facets of this experience, elaborating on these lives through the concept of belonging. This thesis makes a significant contribution to scholarship on Roman Catholic priesthood, seminary education and Scots Colleges abroad. The individual seminarian lives highlight the paradoxical nature of a Roman Catholic clerical education, designed to mould individuals into cosmopolitan priests for the Scottish Catholic Mission.