Church of the Immaculate Conception, Inverurie
A. Brief Brief History: The priest-training college staff of Blairs (South Deeside) ministered to the Roman Catholics in this area until about 1848. At this time Fr Charles Tochetti was sent to this area where he began fund-raising for a church building in Inveruerie. The church was completed in 1852
B. Dedication The church is dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus, frequently called Our Lady in the Roman Catholic tradition, under the title of The Immaculate Conception. This title refers to the Roman Catholic teaching that Mary, from the very beginning of her existence (i.e. her conception) was kept free from all kinds of sinfulness. A solemn pronouncement of this teaching was made by the Pope in 1854 (This event may have influenced the choice of the dedication of our church as this solemn pronouncement took place just two years after this church was completed.)
a) The circular window in the sanctuary area consists of thick glass pieces with rough-hewn surfaces set in a heavy (here, concrete) matrix. It shows a dove-shape, representing the Holy Spirit, and around the circumference are the Latin words + LARGIRE + DONA + SPIRITUS meaning BE GENEROUS WITH THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT.
b) Crucifix Our The crucifix combines a number of aspects usually kept separate: Christ is shown on the cross but he is not shown as suffering but as glorified. He is shown as King (crowned) and as Priest (in the vestments worn by a Roman Catholic priest celebrating Mass). In addition, the symbols of the four Evangelists (the Gospel writers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are attached to the four extremities of the cross.
St John’s Church, Fetternear
The family Leslie of Balquhain received the Fetternear estate from the last pre-reformation bishop of Aberdeen and held it almost continuously thereafter until the early 20th Century. It was Colonel Charles Leslie, the 26th Baron of Balquhain, who had St John’s built once the estate’s catholic population had become too great to be accommodated in the family chapel in Fetternear House. It was built a few years later than the church of the Immaculate Conception that was established in Inverurie by Fr Tochetti in 1852. Colonel Leslie’s son or grandson, Charles Stephen Leslie, established the Fetternear Trust and conveyed the land, church, presbytery, outbuildings and lodge house to the trust in 1915.
Jesuit Links: William Aloysius Leslie of Balquhain (1641 – 1704) was a Jesuit, ordained in France, who served as professor of philosophy in Perugia, rector of the Scots College in Douai and rector of the Scots College in Rome (twice) before returning home as superior of the Jesuit mission in Scotland. The coat of arms, the IHS symbol on the front of the adjoining residence and the St Ignatius of Loyola window are most likely in honour of his memory.
Stained glass windows: The window in the west wall of the sanctuary depicting St Angela Medici of Brescia, foundress of the Ursulines, carries the Leslie (and Dalyell) coats of arms, celebrating Elizabeth Leslie and Frances Dalyell who were, respectively, once superioress and a simple nun in the convent in Lille. The Ursuline order allows one to make a link to the window of St Charles Borromeus and, through his acquaintanceship with St Edmund Campion and others, perhaps including St Ignatius Loyola himself, links back to the Society of Jesus.