James Gillis (bishop)

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1897 publication

James Gillis (1802–1864) was a Roman Catholic bishop who served as the Vicar Apostolic of the Eastern District of Scotland.[1][2]

Biography[3][edit]

Born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on 7 April 1802, the son of a Scottish father and English mother, he came to Fochabers with his parents in 1816. The following year, he entered the Seminary of Aquhorties as an ecclesiastical student and a year later on 3 December 1818, on the instructions of Bishop Alexander Cameron, he and four companions set off from Aquhorties for Paris. Once there, he entered the Seminary of St Nicholas on 16 December 1818. He left St Nicholas in October 1823 and entered the Sulpician's Seminary of Issy,[4] returning to Scotland in April 1826 after his health had given way. He was ordained a priest by Bishop Paterson at Aquhorties on 9 June 1827.

In 1831, John Menzies of Pitfodels, having 3 years' previously bestowed on the Catholic Church in Scotland his extensive estate of Blairs, near Aberdeen, came to reside permanently in Edinburgh and he persuaded Bishop Paterson to live with him at his home, 24 York Place. The Bishop took James Gillis with him, as his secretary.

James Gillis was appointed the Coadjutor Vicar Apostolic of the Eastern District and Titular Bishop of Limyra by the Holy See on 28 July 1837 and consecrated to the Episcopate on 22 July 1838. The principal consecrator was Bishop Peter Augustine Baines, and the principal co-consecrators were Bishop Andrew Scott and Bishop James Kyle.[1][2] Following the death of Bishop Andrew Carruthers on 24 May 1852, Gillis automatically succeeded as the Vicar Apostolic of the Eastern District of Scotland.[1][2] He died in office on 24 February 1864, aged 61.

St. Margaret's Convent[3][edit]

Bishop Gillis in 1841 by Agnes Xavier Trail

In the 1830s, the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland was not yet re-established. James Gillis was a young priest, without influence, experience or worldly means but he wanted to establish a convent and so was sent by Bishop Paterson to the Continent to raise funds. On his journey via London, he was introduced to Miss Ann Agnes Trail, the daughter of a minister of the Church of Scotland. Subsequently on his return to England, Miss Trail wrote to him offering herself as a member of his projected Community. The other Scottish lady, Miss Margaret Clapperton, who was to be one of the founding members of the Community, came from Fochabers and had known James Gillis for much of her life. It was agreed that Miss Trail and Miss Clapperton should go together to Chavagnes, the Mother House of the Ursulines of Jesus[5] and they arrived there on 31 August 1833. Meanwhile, James Gillis managed in June 1834 to purchase a suitable house, known as Whitehouse, for his proposed Convent with 2 acres of ground for £3,000.[6] The initial group of eleven Sisters comprising Miss Trail (now Sister Agnes Xavier), Miss Clapperton (now Sister Margaret Teresa), The Reverend Mother St Hilaire, Mother St Paula, Sister St Damian, Sister Alexis, Sister John Chrysostom, Sister Mary Emily, Sister Angelina and two lay Sisters, Sister Stephen and Sister Eustelle then travelled to Scotland but had to live elsewhere for four months while the Convent was being made ready. On 26 December 1834, the Community took possession of St Margaret's Convent, which was the first post-Reformation convent in Scotland.[7] At St Margaret's, arrangements had been made for the reception of young lady boarders, whose education was to be the principal work of the Sisters. In 1835, the Feast of St Margaret was kept on 16 June and the new St Margaret's Chapel, which had been built alongside the Whitehouse Mansion House, was finished.[8] In 1863, this chapel went on to house a relic, given to them by Bishop Gillis, of St. Margaret of Scotland.[8] For over 150 years, until it was closed in 1986, it was well known in Edinburgh as St Margaret's Convent and School under the ministry of the Ursulines of Jesus.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Brady, W. Maziere (1876). The Episcopal Succession in England, Scotland and Ireland, A.D. 1400 to 1875. Volume 3. Rome: Tipografia Della Pace. p. 469.
  2. ^ a b c "Bishop James Gillis". Catholic-Hierarchy.org. David M. Cheney. Retrieved 30 September 2010.[self-published source]
  3. ^ a b History of St Margaret's Convent, Edinburgh. Ballantyne Press. 1886.
  4. ^ "Saint Sulpice".
  5. ^ a b "Ursulines of Jesus".
  6. ^ Registers of Scotland, Particular Register 1411, Page 253, Registered 11 June 1834
  7. ^ "Trail, Ann Agnes [name in religion Agnes Xavier] (1798–1872), Roman Catholic nun and artist | Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". www.oxforddnb.com. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/45566. Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  8. ^ a b "Trail, Ann Agnes [name in religion Agnes Xavier] (1798–1872), Roman Catholic nun and artist | Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". www.oxforddnb.com. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/45566. Retrieved 2019-03-06.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Andrew Carruthers
Vicar Apostolic of the Eastern District
1852–1864
Succeeded by
John Menzies Strain