On the evening of the 31st of May 1771, the small community of priests and seminarians of the Scots College in Spain moved in to their new home in the former Jesuit College of San Ambrosio in Valladolid.
There, after prayers had been said, in company with the staff and students of the Royal English College – where they had been staying while their new home was being made ready – the Scots settled in to what would become their home for the next 217 years.
With that in mind, 2021 marks 250 years since that major step in our College’s history, the result of the hard work and determination of Fr John Geddes, sent to Spain by the Scottish bishops (or “vicars apostolic” as they were known) to recover the College after its near-loss following the expulsion of the Jesuit order from Spain a few years earlier in 1767, the order which had been responsible for the running fo the College since its founding in 1627.
Since 1771, and on after the next milestone move from Valladolid to our current home in Salamanca, the Scots College has been preparing men for service to the Church in Scotland pretty consistently, barring a few gaps during the Napoleonic War in the early 19th Century, the Spanish Civil War in the mid-20th Century, and for a few years at the beginning of this century.
Follow the link below for the first of a series of videos recorded by Fr Michael Briody, president of the Ambrosian Society (of former students) and vice-president of the Heritage Commission of the Scottish Catholic Church, on the history of the College and why we ended up in Valladolid at all. These have been made specially in order to mark this 250th anniversary. We had hoped to have a celebration “on site”, with visitors and former students in attendance, a conference and presentation in the Old College itself and a moment of prayer to reflect the one which John Geddes led in 1771. However, with the disruption and restrictions in place at the moment due to the Convid-19 pandemic, this has sadly proved impossible. We hope perhaps to mark it at some future point when travel and gatherings again become possible.
Below is the description of the evening of 31st May 1771 given by Fr John Geddes, the rector of the College, in his memoirs:
On the last morning of May (1771), and Inventory was made of some things that were left in the Chappel, and a Copy of it signed by Mr Geddes, was given to Dn Juan Campero; the rest of the day was spent in transporting Beds and Furniture from St Alban’s (the English College) to St Ambrose’s, and in putting these things in their proper Places. After Supper that evening, all the Superiours and Collegians of both Colleges passed together from St Alban’s to St Ambrose’s. When they entered in here, they went directly to the Chappel, and Mr Geddes said the Litanies of Jesus and of the Blessed Virgin, called of Loretto, the rest answering. When this was done, the two Colleges took Leave of one another very affectionately; The English wishing the Scots all Happiness in their new Habitation, the Scots expressing their Gratitude for the Hospitality the English had shown them. The English returned home; the Scots retired to their Rest.”John Geddes, Memoirs of the Translation of the Scotch College from Madrid to Valladolid, #159