The presentation of a special Papal mace marking the 600th anniversary of Scotland’s oldest university is a reminder of the ultimate purpose of education — to know, love and serve God, said the local bishop. “Western culture’s great endeavour through the universities founded in the Middle Ages was the pursuit of wisdom as defined as ‘fides quaerens intellectum’ or ‘faith seeking understanding’,” said Archbishop Leo Cushley of St. Andrews & Edinburgh. “The world may have changed since then but always, somewhere deep down, there is still that sense of a quest for knowledge,” he said, adding that “crucially, it is not a quest for knowledge for its own sake but in order to know God, to love God and to serve God.” The archbishop’s Nov. 30 comments followed the presentation of the new mace to the University of St. Andrews, which was formally constituted by Papal Bull in 1413, making it the first university in Scotland and the third oldest in the English-speaking world. “I think it’s a wonderful day, a wonderfully significant day for the life of the university and indeed our relations with the Catholic Church, we go back so long, so symbolic of our foundation,” said University Principal, Professor Louise Richardson, after receiving the Papal mace during a special St Andrew’s Day service. Made of silver and gold, the Papal mace has been crafted by Edinburgh silversmiths Hamilton & Inches. Bearing the insignia of Pope Francis, it will be known simply as “The 600th Mace.” “I suppose the Catholic Church’s attitude towards the medieval universities is that of a parent or grandparent,” said Archbishop Cushley. “We look at them now from a certain distance, with a certain amount of independence and also we look upon them with some pride, perhaps mixed with a little natural anxiousness for their future but we wish them well knowing where they came from.” The new mace also features an enamel and gold St Andrew’s cross motif at the top of the head. The lower section of its shaft carries the inscription: “From the Scottish Catholic Church in the Pontificate of Pope Francis to the University of St Andrews in celebration of its six centuries. St Andrew’s Day 2014.” “The mace completes a triple recognition of the University St Andrews,” said Professor John Haldane of St. Andrews University, a Consultor to the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture, who initiated the Papal mace project. “During his visit to Scotland at the outset of this decade Pope Benedict referred to the university beginning to mark the 600th anniversary of its foundation, then last year Pope Francis sent a message of congratulation and now his office has granted permission for the inclusion of his coat of arms on the head of a mace commissioned to mark the completion of several centuries and the beginning of who knows how many more.”
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