Home  >  Features  >  Looking Back: New Scots Kirk for Paris

Looking Back

Image: archives-pic_cropped.jpg

Friday June 7 2019

Looking Back: New Scots Kirk for Paris

A report from June 1959 of the dedication of the new Church of Scotland building in Paris

The Rev. Dr. Donald Caskie and the Moderator of the General Assembly, the Rev J. A. Fraser, during a visit to NATO headquarters in Fontaineblue, May 13 1959

New Scots Kirk for Paris

THE “Auld Alliance” was very much in evidence in Paris on 10th May, when the Moderator of the General Assembly dedicated the new Scots Kirk in the Rue Bayard overlooking a small quiet square with a fountain at its centre.

The foundation stone was laid by the Queen in April, 1957.

Scots people in Parish have been holding Presbyterian services for more than 100 years. In 1885 they bought what was previously the American Episcopal Church in Paris for £6,000. This served as the Scots Church in Paris until it was irreparably bombed during the Second World War.

A large party of Scots had crossed for the occasion, representing schools and Scottish societies which had taken a special interest in the re-building – many having given chairs and other furnishings.

The inside is decorated in a simple, modern style and above the door outside there is a Celtic cross which can be illuminated. A block of Iona granite is inset in the floor behind the Holy Table.

Dr. Fraser was assisted by the minister, the Rev. Dr. Donald Caskie; the Rev. R.S. Louden, of the Kirk of the Greyfriars, Edinburgh, Convener of the Colonial and Continental Committee; the Rev. John Birkbeck, of John Knox Parish Church, Aberdeen; and the Rev. Niall D. Watson, minister of the Scots Church, Geneva.

After the opening ceremony Dr. Caskie received six flags – the Union Jack, the St. Andrew’s flag, the French Tricolour, the Stars and Stripes, the flag of the 51st (Highland) Infantry Division, and the flag of the 52nd (Lowland) Infantry Division – from kilted bearers.

The Moderator preached the sermon from the pulpit which comes from the Old Scots Kirk in Mentone.

“The Church of Scotland,” he said, “is a much bigger thing than the Church in Scotland,” He referred to the new church as “this simple but dignified house of God.”

In congratulating the minister and the congregation and all those who have contributed so generously to the building of the new church, he said that “it had been a long and difficult road” that had brought them to this hour.

Before the singing of the National Anthem Dr. Caskie read the following message from the Queen:- “I thank you and the congregation of the Church of Scotland in Paris for your loyal greetings which gave me great pleasure and I wish you every blessing at the opening and dedication of the new church in Paris.”

The new building was beset by structural problems and only lasted 40 years, with a replacement dedicated in 2002. Read more on the Scots Kirk's website.

Earlier this year a cross gifted to Dr Caskie, the famous Tartan Pimpernel, was rehung in the Kirk.

Looking Back: 1958 review of Donald Caskie's book, The Tartan Pimpernel

Previous: Church Union Agreed

Looking Back menu