Roman Catholic Diocese of Aberdeen

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Diocese of Aberdeen

Dioecesis Aberdonensis
Coat of Arms of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Aberdeen.svg
Coat of Arms of the Diocese of Aberdeen
Country Scotland
TerritoryCity of Aberdeen and the council areas of Aberdeenshire, Moray, central and northern part of Highland, and the islands of Orkney and Shetland
Ecclesiastical provinceSt Andrews and Edinburgh
MetropolitanArchdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh
Coordinates57°08′17″N 2°08′35″W / 57.138°N 2.143°W / 57.138; -2.143Coordinates: 57°08′17″N 2°08′35″W / 57.138°N 2.143°W / 57.138; -2.143
Area29,068 km2 (11,223 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2012)
18,500 (2.5%)
DenominationRoman Catholic
RiteLatin Rite
Established4 March 1878
CathedralSt Mary's Cathedral, Aberdeen
Secular priests31
Current leadership
BishopHugh Gilbert[1]
Metropolitan ArchbishopLeo Cushley
Vicar GeneralStuart Chalmers
Bishops emeritusPeter Moran

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Aberdeen (Latin: Dioecesis Aberdonensis) is a diocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland.[2]


The see is the successor of that founded in 1012 at Mortlach by Beyn, which was moved to Aberdeen, by Bishop Nechtan of Aberdeen in April 1132, during the reign of King David I of Scotland. The earliest mention of the see as that of Aberdeen is in the charter of the foundation, by the Earl of Buchan, of the Church of Deer (c. 1152), which is witnessed by Nectan, Bishop of Aberdeen. The first ecclesiastical record of the see is in a papal bull of Pope Adrian IV (1157), confirming to Bishop Edward the churches of Aberdeen and Saint Machar, with the town of Old Aberdeen and other lands.

The granite cathedral was built between 1272 and 1277. Bishop Thomas Spence founded a Franciscan house in 1480, and King's College was founded at Old Aberdeen by Bishop Elphinstone, for eight prebendaries, chapter, sacristan, organist, and six choristers, in 1505. The see was transferred to Old Aberdeen about 1125, and continued there until 1577, having had in that time a list of twenty-nine bishops.

Restoration of the Diocese[edit]

The Scottish Church officially broke allegiance with the Roman church in 1560, but continued intermittently having bishops until 1689. On 4 March 1878, Pope Leo XIII restored the hierarchy of Scotland by the Bull Ex supremo Apostolatus apice and Vicar-Apostolic John MacDonald was translated to the restored See of Aberdeen as its first bishop.

The Bull made Aberdeen one of the four suffragan sees of the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, and defined as its territory "the counties of Aberdeen, Kincardine, Banff, Elgin or Moray, Nairn, Ross (except Lewis in the Hebrides), Cromarty, Sutherland, Caithness, the Orkney and Shetland Islands, and that portion of Inverness which lies to the north of a straight line drawn from the most northerly point of Loch Luing to the eastern boundary of the said county of Inverness, where the counties of Aberdeen and Banff join."

Early Twentieth Century[edit]

In 1906 there were nearly 4,000 Catholics out of a population of 800,000. The clergy consisted of 48 secular priests, 24 regular priests, 57 churches, chapels, and stations; and various schools. There was a Benedictine Abbey at Fort Augustus which had been raised to the rank of an abbey, immediately subject to the Holy See, by a brief of Leo XIII on 12 December 1882. Its building was made possible by the financial backing of Lord Lovat.

Twenty First Century[edit]

The current bishop of the diocese is the Right Reverend Hugh Gilbert OSB. In area the diocese is 29,068 square kilometres (11,223 sq mi) approximately one fifth of the land mass of Scotland. Proportionately it has the smallest Catholic population of any diocese in the United Kingdom. In 2006 the Catholic population of 20,000 out of a total population of 700,000 (2.9%) was served by 44 priests and 12 deacons in 41 parishes.[2]

Past and present ordinaries[edit]

The following is a list of the modern Bishops of Aberdeen and its precursor offices:[2]

Vicars Apostolic of the Highland District
Vicars Apostolic of the Northern District
  • James Kyle (appointed 13 February 1827 – died 23 February 1869)
  • John MacDonald (succeeded 23 February 1869 – became Bishop of Aberdeen 15 March 1878)
Bishops of Aberdeen

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Pope chooses abbot as Bishop of Aberdeen". Catholic Herald. UK. 6 June 2012. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "Diocese of Aberdeen". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 3 October 2010.

External links[edit]