Financing the Faith
: Scottish Catholicism 1772- c.1890

  • Darren Tierney

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (awarded by OU/Aberdeen)


This thesis considers the financial development of the Catholic Church in Scotland between 1772 and circa 1890. In 1772, the Church was heavily reliant on external, normally insufficient sources of income. The dangers of this over-reliance became clear when the progress of the French Revolution destroyed the Church’s foreign financial bases and saw the loss of its continental colleges. Consequently, and for the first time, the Church turned to the
Catholic laity for financial support. This represented a significant cultural shift for a community which was unaccustomed to providing such support. But recognising the Church’s financial needs, the laity responded generously to this appeal and in many places raised additional funds to support their priests. Very quickly this financial necessity was subsumed into a larger narrative of religious duty and idealism, so that to financially support the Church
was now also crucial to an individual’s spiritual and temporal well-being. By the early decades of the nineteenth century, financial voluntarism was well embedded in the Catholic community and ordinary Catholics had assumed responsibility for financing many of the Church’s activities. As the century progressed, and as the Church responded to new pressures caused by famine migration, the bishops began to exert greater control over the Church’s
financial life. The rise of ultramontanism within the Church, with its focus on the parish church, ensured that the local church also became the locus for many of these new fundraising efforts. A sign of the Church’s increasing maturation came in 1878 when Rome restored the episcopal hierarchy, which had a number of financial implications as the bishops sought to come to terms with ordinary ecclesiastical government - something that had been lacking for
nearly three centuries. By c. 1890, most of the difficulties of these years had been resolved and the Church had put in place financial infrastructures that, in many ways, remain in place even today.
Date of Award6 May 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Edinburgh
SupervisorJim MacPherson (Supervisor), Daniel Szechi (Supervisor) & Nick Needham (Supervisor)

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