Edinburgh Castle preview of St Ninian’s Day parade for Pope

CARDINAL Keith O’Brien, Britain’s most senior Catholic clergyman, has invited over a thousand pipers, hundreds of school children and dozens of historical characters to greet Pope Benedict XVI and entertain the crowds gathered in Edinburgh to greet him on the morning of September 16.

The St Ninian’s Day parade, which will precede Pope Benedict XVI’s tour of the capital by Popemobile, was officially launched this morning at a ceremony at St Margaret’s Chapel in Edinburgh Castle and it promises to be spectacular event.

The pipers will be drawn from bands from Scotland and beyond. They will lead the parade and they will also play Highland Cathedral as the Holy Father travels past in the Popemobile.

The launch, a mini pararde in itself, was attended by Cardinal O’Brien, Fiona Hyslop MSP, Minister for Culture and External Affairs, and a selection of the characters who will represented in the historical parade. John Knox will be played on the day by Scottish actor  John Shedden.

The parade will start at 11am from Regent Road and will march along Princes Street concluding at 12.30pm with the arrival of the Holy Father himself in the Popemobile.

“In centuries gone by St Ninian’s Day was always a great occasion for national celebration and charitable giving,” Cardinal O’Brien said. “We’ve now got a fabulous chance to resurrect that noble Scottish tradition by raising money for two wonderful charities.”

The charities that will benefit from fundraising at the parade are Marie Curie Cancer Care and Mary’s Meals. Marie Curie has two hospices in Scotland—Glasgow and Edinburgh—while Mary’s Meals runs school feeding projects providing daily meals for 400,000 children in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Mary’s Meals is looking for volunteers to represent the charity on Princes Street in Edinburgh during the St Ninian’s Day parade. Anyone who can help would be asked to wear a Mary’s Meals T-shirt and would be assigned a place to stand and watch the parade, holding a collection bucket. The time commitment would be from about 9am to about 1pm. To sign up e-mail info@marysmeals.org or call Rachael on 0141 336 7094.

The St Ninian’s Parade is free and spectators are advised to arrive in plenty of time to line the streets ahead of the start.

In other Papal visit news, Cardinal Seán Brady, Primate of All-Ireland, has said he is greatly looking forward to the Holy Father’s visit to Britain and that he plans to attend the key events.

“I plan to accompany Pope Benedict in Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Birmingham,” Cardinal Brady said.

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