WATCH: The Passion in St John's Gospel

Mgr Patrick Burke, of St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh, dives into the the Passion in St John's Gospel in this special Holy Week talk.

Watch now on YouTube or below.

Chrism Mass

The Chrism Mass takes place at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh on Tuesday 26 March at 7:00pm.
Archbishop Cushley will consecrate/bless the holy oils that will be given to parishes and clergy will renew their priestly promises to serve God & His people.
No registration required.
Clergy only can let the Cathedral know they are coming at this link:

The Passion in St John's Gospel (Webinar)

Join Monsignor Patrick Burke, from St Mary’s Cathedral, to meditate on the Passion of Christ as written in the Gospel of St John.

This Zoom event is at 6:00pm on Palm Sunday (24 March). Join us and start Holy Week in a spirit of reflection.  

Register at here.

HOLY WEEK: preparing for Easter Sunday

Palm Sunday begins Holy Week - the most sacred time in the Church's Calendar.

MONDAY: Join us for online Stations of the Cross at 7:45pm. Register at

TUESDAY: Archbishop Cushley will celebrate the Chrism Mass on Tuesday at 7:00pm with priests from across the Archdiocese at St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh.

TRIDUUM: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday - Archbishop Cushley encourages us all to attend these special liturgies in preparation for Easter.

GOOD FRIDAY: All Catholics are obliged to abstain from meat, and all adults between 16 and 65 are obliged to fast.

CONFESSION: The sacrament of penance is a good way to prepare for Easter Sunday. If you haven't been for a while see our video on returning to confession below or at here.

Full Holy Week programme at the Cathedral:

Learn more about the history and background to Palm Sunday and Holy Week in this talk from Archbishop Leo Cushley.

WATCH: Online talk from Archbishop Leo

Archbishop Leo Cushley explores Palm Sunday and Holy Week in this talk, broadcast on Zoom on Monday 27 March.

GALLERY: welcome to our new Catholics!

Congratulations to all who received the sacraments of Baptism, First Holy Communion or Confirmation at Easter Vigils across the Archdiocese last night (Saturday 16 April).

At St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh, eight people were Baptized and received into the Church: Joanna, Jooyong, Shirlee, Maylis, Matthew, Nilesh, Rowen and Jean; and a further eight people received into the Church received Holy Communion and were Confirmed: Susannah, Naomi, Sherisse, Merran, Tony, An, Sebastian and Cathie.

An additional nine people were Confirmed: Paul, Nyasha, Amelia, Jone, Zilvinas, Pamela, Joseph, Dario and Myron.

Canon Patrick Burke, parish priest at the Cathedral, said: "This is the end of a long journey of faith for each of them. I know that you will make them very welcome as they make this step and I ask you to keep them all in your prayers as they participate in our parish community."

Read Archbishop Leo Cushley's Easter Vigil homily here. Full picture gallery here.


All pics: Benedicta Yi Xin Lin.


Archbishop Leo's Easter Message

Happy Easter! Here is Archbishop Leo Cushley's Easter message, delivered this morning in his homily at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh.

Homily of Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh

Celebration of Easter Sunday 2022

St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral, Edinburgh  

My dear friends,

A very happy Easter to you all!

Over these three days, here at the cathedral we have been looking at the mysteries of our faith through a particular lens, that of courage.  We recalled different kinds of courage: we saw how Simon Peter is bold; St Thomas too; Our Lady and St John likewise; and others too, all in their own ways.

We remember how Peter’s words are courageous at first, but the roots of his courage aren’t very deep as yet, and he runs away in fear.  Our Lady and St John show courage simply by standing at the foot of the Cross, with a silent and dignified courage before the mob, and before the terrible majesty of Christ’s death on the Cross; and later we will hear from St Thomas again, who will remain bold and outspoken, even to the very highpoint of John’s Gospel.

Last night, we also saw how the women who went to the tomb – Mary of Magdala, Joanna and Mary the mother of James, are brave, and have been bold, up to point. They had stood bravely at the foot of the Cross, and had seen Jesus die a slow and cruel death.  They had been very brave to risk the jeering and the insults from the mob gathered there “to see the spectacle” of Jesus’ last hours; but here, in the quiet of the garden, at the tomb, their courage deserts them completely.  Ironically, now that the danger to themselves has passed, they are terrified, here at the empty tomb.  Their courage will only return later on.

Meantime, today, the story takes another twist.  Peter and John become the next protagonists in the story.  Their courage has also been put to the test.  Peter was full of fine, brave words, but his courage failed him when he was recognised on the evening of Jesus’ trial, and he fled for his life.  This is the point in the story where he re-emerges and, be it for faith or love or regret or curiosity, he sets off for the tomb.

John, meantime, has accompanied all the events, although no remarks of his are recorded.  We understand that he was known to the high priest and so he was present at Jesus’ trial and condemnation; he stood with Our Lady at the foot of the Cross; and here he is again, present at the empty tomb.  His courage, although he says nothing in all these episodes, is there for all to see.  He is a silent but courageous witness to the Lord’s death and resurrection.  St John is an inspiration to us all, and shows us how Christian witness is often just as eloquent when it is a tacit one; his witness isn’t flashy, but it is consistent, it is real, and it is a mark of a true friend and follower.  The Gospel text here acknowledges his faith: as he stands before the empty tomb, it says of him, alone, “He saw, and he believed”.

As for Peter, this too is one of several moments where he is redeemed after the failure of his courage.  In contrast to everyone else, even John, we are told that Peter boldly goes “right into the tomb”.  He sees that everything is neat, in order, and that there is no body. The text says no more of him alone, but it adds that, until this moment, they had both failed to understand that Jesus must rise from the dead.  And this short sentence marks the moment which changes everything.  John’s courage and faith are now confirmed; and Peter’s courage and faith begin to return. He starts to glimpse that he was right after all: Jesus is indeed the Christ, the Son of the living God.  And he begins to see that the whole of creation stands on the threshold of a new, and unexpected, and wonderful future.

Meantime, as we saw on Holy Thursday night, only a very few disciples remained steadfast and faithful to the Lord in his agony and death.  And as we saw on Thursday, St Thomas is one apostle who stands out for his courage.  St Thomas, famously, was the only one who wasn’t there when the risen Lord appeared in the Upper Room on the first Easter Day.  Who knows if he wasn’t there, precisely because he was the only one there brave enough to show his face in public while the rest of the disciples were cowering in the Upper Room, for fear of the mob? And even that was turned to great account, when the risen Lord appeared to them all eight days later, and Thomas declared before him and before us all, “My Lord and my God!”

Our faith may be like that of Peter, weak but genuine; it may be like John’s, silent but constant; or it may be like Thomas’s, outspoken but firm; but all of us, through our faith and our baptism, are heirs to the life of grace, and we all of us have the greatest reason to rejoice: Jesus is the Son of God, and today he is risen from the dead.  The rest comes after that.

A very Happy and Holy Easter to you all!

Good Friday - Archbishop's Homily

Here is Archbishop Leo's homily on Friday of the Passion of the Lord, from St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh this afternoon. All pics: Benedicta Yi Xin Lin.

Homily of Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh

Solemn Commemoration of the Lord’s Passion, 2022

St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral, Edinburgh  

My dear friends,

Today by tradition we listen to the Passion according to St John.  Last night, here in the Cathedral we reflected a little on the courage of Thomas the Apostle.  St John records that all the disciples were afraid of going up to Jerusalem with the Lord – except St Thomas.

Instead, he spoke out: he dared to accompany Jesus to Jerusalem, and said boldly to the others, “Let us go too, and die with Him”.  Of all the disciples, Thomas is the only one who speaks up, or better, who expresses any words of true and consistent courage in the face of the events as they unfolded.

We know that St Peter has some brave words to say.  We’ve just heard them, but they turn out quickly to be only words.  Peter’s betrayal becomes an iconic one, a collapse of his genuine, but as yet timid, love for the Lord as he is challenged by a few bystanders, who catch his accent, realize he’s a Galilean, and terrify him with the prospect of his own torture and death.

But not even Thomas is there at the end.  Only St John, of all the Apostles, is at the foot of the Cross.  Our Lady, Mary of Magdala, and Mary the wife of Cleopas, also stand there and bear the risk of association with Jesus bravely, to say nothing of the shame and the horror, as they keep their watch, in front of all the onlookers who had, as St Luke says, “come to see the spectacle”.

From the Cross, Jesus then addresses a few final words to his mother and to John. Others, perhaps emboldened in some way, show a little courage later on: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus step forward after Jesus’ death.  They have both been growing in faith over the time of Jesus’ ministry, and have come to follow Jesus by slightly different paths.

Nicodemus came to Jesus to get to know him, but famously did so “by night”, probably because he didn’t want to be seen with Jesus in public.  Meantime, however, he has grown in courage, and with the death of Jesus, his faith has now been confirmed and revealed.  Here is a faith that embraces Jesus at the very moment of his death.

Nicodemus is not only brave; he is among the very first disciples to see that what is happening here today isn’t a disaster, but the very will of God revealed in the mystery of the Cross.

He glimpses now, as the Church would later on, that Christ came into the world for this”.  The Cross is a triumph, though a dark and somber one at this moment.

Meantime, Joseph of Arimathea is there too: he is actually described here as a disciple, which is worth noting.  He was an important man among the people; but he too is described a secret disciple, because he had been afraid of other people’s opinions about Jesus; but he has been quietly growing in faith nonetheless.

He, like Nicodemus, is here at the end, and he goes to Pilate to ask for Jesus’ body.  He is a silent, brave and eloquent witness of faith in Jesus as well.

And, above all, we see the love and constancy of Our Lady, St John and the other Marys.  It is impossible to imagine what is going through Our Lady’s mind, but her heart is surely pierced by her Son’s rejection and death.

And through the Lord’s dialogue with her and John, we see them united with Jesus and each other in a way that sets them quite apart from the other figures beneath the Cross, although all of the group show the greatest courage and love to be there with Jesus to the end.

And, for Our Lady and St John, we see a particular bond of love and affection which is very moving to recall.  We are told nothing more about it here.  But we can be confident that their love for Jesus has turned, silently and solemnly, into something that will grow in the days and years to follow.

Mary’s natural, motherly love for her Son, and John’s brotherly love for his friend, and filial love for his divine Master, are transformed though the Cross into something even more profound.

To paraphrase the great Scots poet Edwin Muir, “What had Eden ever to say” about the flowers of “hope and faith and pity and love”* that grow at the foot of the Cross, and that bloom, nourished by Christ’s blood, to give hope and courage to all humanity?*  These flowers of faith and affection, growing but still delicate and small in today’s story, will one day become faith and hope for us all, to the greater glory of God.

And whether our faith is new like Nicodemus’s, or brave like Joseph’s, let us learn to imitate the love and the courage of them all, especially Our Lady and St John.  Let us take the risk to place ourselves in public at the foot of the Cross, and offer the Lord the little faith and love and courage that we have, in the hope that it will grow more constant in our hearts, by God’s good grace.

*One Foot in Eden, by Edwin Muir.

All pics: Benedicta Yi Xin Lin.

Holy Thursday - Archbishop's Homily

Archbishop Leo Cushley celebrated Mass of the Lord's Supper at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh tonight (Thursday).

He told those present to "take heart from the Lord's loving gestures" at the Last supper, when Jesus establised the Eucharist, the priesthood and washed the disciples' feet.

Archbishop Leo washed the feet of parishioners who represented the apostles to demonstrate Christian service and to reinforce Christ's message at the Last Supper - 'Love one another as I have loved you'.

After Mass the Cathedral remains open for prayer at the Altar of Repose and Night Prayer is celebrated at 11pm. Read the homily below.

Homily of Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh,

Mass of the Lord’s Supper 2022

St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral, Edinburgh

My dear friends,

Tonight, we begin our three days with the Lord under the great and powerful banner of the Cross.

All the Gospels record how the disciples gradually came to be afraid of Jesus’s appointment with destiny in Jerusalem, that comes into focus this evening.  Mark and the other Synoptics talk of the twelve being in a “daze” and “apprehensive” as it gradually dawned on them that, not only was Jesus, their friend and Master and Lord, not going to be welcomed in Jerusalem; not only would the priests and people not welcome him as messiah, or even as a holy man; they began to see that the authorities were planning to destroy him.  And that might well mean them along with him.

When Simon Peter had called Jesus “the Christ”, they thought that he was bold, but they had also come to believe that he was right; that Peter’s great and insightful declaration of faith in Jesus as the Messiah was a real turning point, filled with grace and with power from on high; they felt confident in Peter and in the Lord; they had seen the signs; they felt they understood; they believed.

And yet they were human too, and their antennae were telling them that something was now going awry, that all was not well, that those who led the people, who knew the Law of Moses, those who were good and wise in Torah were convinced that Jesus was not what he claimed to be; and worse, the disciples could see and feel that the opposition to Jesus was growing stronger, and that it was getting deadly.

So why follow Jesus now, who had set his face so markedly towards Jerusalem?  Faith, love, loyalty?  Something that they had glimpsed in his words or in his actions? Something wonderful that they had seen and heard and touched with their own hands?

Their misgivings were growing. But in John’s Gospel that we see another reaction among the twelve.  We hear one voice that’s definitely not afraid; and it’s the voice of Thomas, the supposedly “doubting” apostle.

At the death of Lazarus, Jesus is heading towards Jerusalem and faces his end, but on the way he goes to the house of Lazarus.  He sets off late, and he gets there after Lazarus has died.  He arrives at Bethany and there gives his greatest sign: he raises Lazarus from the dead – and this gift, of life restored to Lazarus, is not only frowned upon by the priests; it becomes the reason par excellence that provokes the High Priest and his council to pass sentence of Jesus, and have him put to death.

By a double irony, however, this stroke also becomes the very means by which Jesus the Messiah, the Lamb of God, slain by the high priest, takes away the sin and death of the world, and restores life – and not just to Lazarus, not just to believers, but to the whole of God’s good creation.

But before any of this can happen, the disciples are getting more and more afraid of going with Jesus to Jerusalem, as all the signs of Jesus’ voluntary doom approaching.  Meantime, Thomas sees the Lord resolutely heading towards the crisis in Jerusalem, and he too makes a public stand, and takes a decision.  He doesn’t quite know what he’s saying, yet, but John records his brave words, as he says to all the disciples, “Let us go too, then, and die with him”.

We already know of the uncertainty in the minds and hearts of the disciples; we will learn shortly of Peter’s brittle, though affectionate attachment to the Lord; we will also see tomorrow the silent courage of Our Lady and the Apostle John at the foot of the Cross and its horror.  Peter’s declaration that he would die for the Lord will become source of shame to him; but we will never hear again anything quite like Thomas’s call to courage, so bold, so prescient, so impossibly noble at a time when the darkest clouds were menacing them all.

Thomas gives us, then, a wonderful insight into the human drama taking place in the breasts of the followers of Jesus as he approaches Jerusalem to face this night of betrayal and death.  In the small world of Judea, they knew something was amiss; they knew their ideas and plans for greatness were not materializing.  Some had already stopped believing in Jesus and going with him; one was planning, even now, to betray him.  But most of them stayed loyal to Jesus to some extent, compelled either by love for him or by his authority.

Not everyone had Thomas’s courage.  That is why the Lord’s great gesture of love, the washing of the feet tonight, becomes such a great sign of affection.  Not just out of brotherly concern, or of friendship, but of loving encouragement.  It is a sign of love; but it is also one to make us take heart. We do not know what the Lord will ask of us one day; all we know is that he loves us, in spite of our betrayals, and lies, and cowardice, and half-heartedness.  He loves us this much – and this, even before we approach the agony of the Cross which he chooses tomorrow to undergo for us.

My friends, let us take heart from the Lord’s loving gestures here tonight, both in the washing of the feet, and supremely in the Eucharist, the memorial of his death, and the greatest sign of his love and encouragement. The Mass tonight links us forever to his love for us and to its pledge in his death on the Cross.  So let us be encouraged by him in what we do here tonight in his memory.

Let us in our turn be loving to towards each other and to the Lord; let us watch with him; let us renew our faith in Him.

And in these days, let us go, again, to die with Him.

Chrism Mass 2022 - Archbishop's Homily

Archbishop Leo Cushley reinforced the message that "we are all one in Christ" at tonight's Chrism Mass at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh.

The Chrism Mass sees clergy renew their priestly promises publicly while the oil of baptism, the oil of the sick and the oil of catechumens are blessed for distribution to parishes.

Archbishop Leo said: "We gather as God’s priestly people, doing so solemnly, and in view of the great Christian festival of Easter.

And we do this all together, in our various orders and ranks, and all of us as one body, as royal priests, and all with one thing in view, the one thing that is necessary: after all, the Church exists to bear witness to the mystery of God’s love incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead.

And we do that together, or not at all.  Everything else is secondary." Read the homily below.

Homily of Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh

Chrism Mass, 12 April 2022, St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral, Edinburgh  

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

A very warm welcome to the Chrism Mass in this, the Year of Grace 2022.

Many years ago, a famous pope of Rome, upon being consecrated bishop of the city, prepared a homily for his consecration which has come down to us.  In it, he talks about the oil, the sacred Chrism, that has been poured upon him as he is being consecrated.

He thanks everyone for coming and promises to serve them well.  But when he comes to talking about the Chrism, he doesn’t just talk about his own anointing; instead, he chooses to emphasise how the Holy Spirit is poured out not only on him, but also in some sense upon everyone present.

It is true, he said, that he had been anointed for their sake, but he adds that they too have been anointed and “unsparingly” so.  This is because, although “the Church is ordered in various ranks, so that the whole is made up of different members, yet, as St Paul says, we are all one in Christ”.  We are all one in Christ.*

The various offices we hold, the different ministries we carry out for the good, not of ourselves, but of each other, are not to be a source of self-importance or pride or division between the various parts of the mystical body of Christ.  We are all completely equal in dignity; we are all, without distinction, heirs to the life of grace.  In the order of creation, we are made in the image and likeness of God, and we are utterly unique and “unrepeatable”.

So, we are evidently different from each other, but in the unity of the faith and baptism that we enjoy, we have an undivided fellowship and a dignity common to all.  We are living stones, making a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people.

In Baptism, the sign of the cross “makes royalty of all who are reborn in Christ”; and the anointing of Confirmation consecrates all of us here as priests, so that, apart from the particular obligations of the ministerial priesthood, every Christian is a member of a kingly race and shares in the priestly office.  “What could be more royal, than a soul that subjects his- or herself to God and becomes the ruler of their own body? What could be more priestly, than when a Christian consecrates a pure conscience to God, and offers the sacrifice of their devotion on the altar of their heart?”

As we gather as the local Church, then, we set aside these three oils for consecration, for use in the next twelve months.  They will be used to heal the sick and to fortify the dying; to purify those preparing for Baptism, and to consecrate ourselves, our priests and our places of worship to almighty God.  We gather as God’s priestly people, doing so solemnly, and in view of the great Christian festival of Easter.

And we do this all together, in our various orders and ranks, and all of us as one body, as royal priests, and all with one thing in view, the one thing that is necessary: after all, the Church exists to bear witness to the mystery of God’s love incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead.

And we do that together, or not at all.  Everything else is secondary.

No matter our functions or ranks, whether we make our churches safe from covid, or for safeguarding, or hear Confessions or do the flowers, whether our good works are known or unknown, whether or not we are welcomed or loved or have a good reputation, as today’s disciples of Christ, filled with his Holy Spirit, we exist to bear witness to, and to communicate, the mystery of divine love incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead.  And everything else is secondary.

Like Christ Himself, the Spirit of the Lord has been given to us.  Like the first followers of the Way who in Antioch were the first to be identified by the name “Christian”, we aspire to be like Christ, the anointed one, as we take that name upon ourselves.  We aspire to do God’s will, and to witness to God’s love in the world. We aspire to be people that others will take by the sleeve and say, “We have heard that God is with you; tell us about Him, that we may serve Him too, and that, like you, we may walk in His ways”.

And like Christ in tonight’s Gospel, we already have the one gift that matters: deep within us, through our Baptism and Confirmation, through our anointing with Chrism, we too can say with the Lord, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me”. In the face of all the turmoils and distress around us, we have been sent to contradict them all; we have been sent by God’s Spirit to proclaim the Lord’s “year of favour”.

Let us proclaim that year of favour, then, priests and people alike, by renewing our faith and devotion; by renewing our commitment to Christ through discipline of self; let us master ourselves with a kingly power and with a noble self-restraint; may me learn again to be priestly, to consecrate a pure conscience to God, and to offer the sacrifice of devotion on the altar of our hearts; and let us be witnesses, filled with God’s Holy Spirit, that is a renewed, and living, and attractive witness to all around of what it is to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit.

A very good Holy Week to you all!

*See St Leo the Great, Sermon 4,1-2.