St Giles High Kirk ***

Region: Edinburgh

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Description:

In 1559, John Knox preached his first sermon on the Reformation at the High Kirk of St. Giles. His listeners reported that "he was so active and vigorous it looked as if he was about to break the pulpit in bits and fly out of it." Knox was instrumental in spreading the Presbyterian form of Protestantism throughout Scotland.

In 1633, King Charles I appointed Scottish Episcopal bishops and in 1635 William Forbes became the first bishop of the new diocese of Edinburgh. The church of St Giles' thus became a cathedral, as the seat of a bishop.

It was in St Giles on 23 July 1637 that Jenny Geddes stood up in front of the dean, Rev James Hannay, when he started to read from Laud's Liturgy. She picked up the stool she was sitting and threw it at his head, shouting “Villain, dost thou say mass at my lug (in my hearing)”. A riot broke out, with more people shouting and throwing stools, before leaving the building. That started the period of Covenanter oppression.

Although it is today a Presbyterian church, which does not have bishops, St. Giles' continues to be referred to as a cathedral.

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