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Shroud o' tourin': Scots unveil first papal-visit plaid

September 10, 2010 | 12:01 pm


Clerical garb can be so ... drab, right? What those old-fashioned color-blocked robes need is a snap of traditional Scottish plaid.

We know that was almost certainly not the motivation behind Thursday's unveiling of the first tartan created to commemorate a papal visit to Scotland, but it caught our imagination anyway.

According to a Daily Record article, the limited-edition St. Ninian's Day tartan was created to honor Pope Benedict XVI's visit on Sept. 16, and was formally presented to the Scottish Parliament on Thursday. According to the report, each of the 129 MSPs (members of the Scottish Parliament) will be given a tie or scarf in the pattern.

What's most surprising to us is that the design, which is chock-full of symbolism from the colors (the yellow and white lines symbolize the Vatican) to the number of threads in the design (452, representing the number of Catholic parishes in Scotland), was designed by an American -- Matthew Newsome, who just so happens to be the director of the Scottish Tartans Museum in Franklin, N.C.

The article did not indicate whether the pope would opt for a knee-length kilt instead of his regular vestments.

-- Adam Tschorn

Photo: Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien on Thursday unveils the world's first papal-visit tartan outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Credit: Jeff J. Mitchell / Getty Images