February 2018 (Vol. 41, Number 08)
The Banner Says…
February may be the shortest month of the year but for some it is also the month of love. Love can mean so many things to different people. Love for each other, our pets, places, music and pretty much anything else that we connect with.
This past couple of months have also caused me to reflect on some wonderful readers I have gotten to know over the years and have recently sadly passed away. With the Scottish Banner I have been lucky to travel all over the world to attend Scottish events (in 2017 I was at events in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Scotland and the USA) and at these functions I get to meet many readers and literally put a face to the names. Some also call our offices when a new issue hits to tell us how on the mark, or off, we were with a story or piece of coverage.
One lady called me to tell me she took her husband’s paper in to him in hospital as he was not doing well. Once she arrived he read it from cover to cover and died soon after with a smile on his face she said. This gentleman I had met before and was a long time reader, and I know we were a vehicle for him to express his deep love for Scotland and each month we helped connect him to the nation his heart never ever left.
To those long time readers who I can’t speak to again, but let me know on a regular basis how much they “loved Scotland and their Banner”, thank you for teaching me more about the land you loved and keeping your passion for Scotland alive until the end.
Corpus Valentini Martyris
With Valentine’s Day coming up this month, many may be surprised to hear nestled in the heart of the Gorbals area of Glasgow lie the remains of a man who inspires the world to more romantic and celebrate love every February 14th. But just how did the remains of St Valentine end up not only in Glasgow, but one of its most notorious suburbs?
In 1868, a wealthy family from France made a donation to the Franciscan church of a small wooden box inscribed with the Latin phrase ‘Corpus Valentini Martyris’ or ‘The Body of Saint Valentine.’ The church sent the relic box (apparently containing his forearm bones) to Saint Francis Church, in the Gorbals on the south bank of the River Clyde, as they were impressed with the religious devotion of locals. There the box remained, with few knowing the important relics said to lie within, for over a century. In 1999 the gold box was moved to the nearby Blessed St John Duns Scotus, where it has been given pride of place at the entry of the church. Every Valentine’s Day, the church is decorated with flowers and the priests pray for lovers, and today some men also choose that spot on February 14th to propose to their partners.
There is some question of course if these remains are in fact those of St Valentine as also Rome, Italy; Birmingham, England; Roquemaure, France and Dublin in Ireland claim to house St Valentine’s bones. Regardless today Glasgow often bills itself as the ‘City of Love’ due to these remains. It is without question a city I love and always look forward to my next visit back.
In this issue
Travel by train can be a great way to see a country and Scotland is no different. With an excellent network many visitors to Scotland can sit back and take it all in by train. Some routes also access parts of the country roads do not, making it extra special. With this issue you can sit back and get on board for a ride along the rails and some of Scotland’s best train experiences.
If you have travelled by train no doubt you have seen sheep from the window of your carriage. A team of Scottish researchers have been studying the facial expressions of sheep who exhibit emotions through facial changes and reactions. With more sheep than people and one of the longest life expectancies in the world it is wonderful to see researchers learning how we can help sheep by looking at what their faces are telling us.
Recently the Renfrewshire town of Paisley missed out on being named the UK’s City of Culture for 2021. As the only Scottish entry this of course came as a big blow, but the town is not letting that stop it from a dynamic cultural change. I remember one summer renting a flat in Paisley, on the doorstep of Glasgow, when I was a teenager with friends. We instantly loved the town and its amazing buildings and Paisley will always hold a special place for me. I know there is much more to the town than just an iconic pattern and next time you are in Scotland try and see what all the fuss is so rightly about.
Scotland really can be considered a romantic destination with world class vistas, heritage and food, no matter what month you visit. The month of February some may say is short and sweet. It can also be the dragging out of winter, or summer, for many and perhaps a quick nod to St Valentine (regardless of where he resting) halfway through the month can only be a good thing.
If you are reading the Scottish Banner, no doubt you have a love for an ancient land called Scotland, and no matter what you do on the 14th that is something we can all agree on…
Tell us what you love about Scotland. Share your story with us by email, post or at www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us