St Michael's Roman Catholic Church, Linlithgow
53 Blackness Road, Linlithgow. Telephone: +44(0)1506 842145

Quick Info

Mass Times


09:00 am. 11:30 am. and 4:30pm. Holy Mass

Monday - Saturday Except Tuesday:

10:00 a.m. Mass


10:00 a.m. Liturgy of Word and Holy Communion

Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession):

Saturday 10:30am or by appointment
For occassional variations, see Newsletter
Baptism/ Weddings/ Funerals


By appointment with Father Paul. Celebrated during Sunday Eucharist. Parents and God parents attend 2 meetings with Baptism team prior to Baptism. No Baptism during Lent


By appointment with Father Paul.
6 Months notice required.Couple must attend a marriage preparation course


By appointment with Father Paul



Rev Fr Paul Kelly M.A., D.Phil, Our Parish Priest



Welcome to the Website of St Michael’s Roman Catholic Church, Linlithgow, Scotland. Father Paul and the parishioners warmly welcome new parishioners and visitors to our church. In this Web Site you will find details of our services and information related to the Parish.

St Michaels RC Church

St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church is situated in the historic and picturesque town of Linlithgow. The present church is situated at the East end of the town near the Low Port (entrance to the town). It is located beside the banks of Linlithgow loch and close to the old palace where Mary Queen of Scots was born. Next to the palace is the Parish Church of St Michael's the original seat of the Catholic Church prior to the reformation. This brief history chronicles the Catholic Church in Linlithgow from inception to the present day. The historic town of Linlithgow has a long association with Catholicism in Scotland. Although the present church has been in its current position by the side of Linlithgow Loch for a few years more than a century, St Michael has been associated with Linlithgow since the 13th century. St Michael's Parish church, in the centre of the town next to the remains of Linlithgow Palace, had a long association with the Stuart Kings and Scotland's most famous Queen; Mary Queen of Scots. Mary Queen of Scot's was born in Linlithgow Palace towards the end of 1542 and was baptised in St Michael's Church.

Records of the charter of David 1, in which he gifted not only the church but also "…its chapels and lands, and all other rights belonging thereto…", indicate that even in 1138 St. Michael's Church of Linlithgow was of considerable size and influence. Indeed, long before 1242 when David de Bernham, Bishop of St. Andrews, officially dedicated this beautiful medieval church it was known as a mother church. Located atop the mound and beside Linlithgow Palace the building stands testimony to the power and influence of pre-Reformation Roman Catholicism. The hierarchy of the Church of St. Michael's Linlithgow did without doubt exert great influence on the daily lives of the population of Scotland although much of this influence was secularised through its links with the Establishment.

However, it must not be forgotten that the church was built by local people as a permanent dedication to the greater glory of God. By the 16th century the Church was beset on all sides with calls for reform of various degrees of severity. Moderates, justifiably, wanted internal reform to rid the Church of much that was corrupt. One such was Linlithgow priest Ninian Winzet, who courageously stood up to more militant reformers who wished to see an end to Roman influence. Others were much more militant, for example, John Knox "…whose "rascally multitude" desecrated the church of St. Michael's Linlithgow, among others…" . To put it mildly feelings were running high and the outcome was the radical reformation of worship throughout the land... Click here to read more




Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Here you will find just some of the things happening during this Lent in our Archdiocese. Lent is always the best time of the liturgical year to step back, reflect and, with God’s grace, set our life back on course, especially if you have strayed far.
So please take a look here, and see if there is something that will enrich your spiritual life and that of the people around you.
I look forward to meeting you at the events listed here, and to praying and preparing with you, so that we may celebrate together the risen Christ at Easter. Have a joyful and holy Lent!

+Leo Cushley
Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh

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Parish Newsletter Subscription

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Minutes from Justice & Peace Meeting, 30th January 2014


St Andrew’s Extravaganza @ St Michael’s

Many thanks to everyone who supported the event.  We raised £1,376 for Mary’s Meals which will go towards the cost of sponsoring a kitchen.  The full cost is £7,000 and we hope to do more fundraising as a parish to reach this target.  More details to follow...




Vatican City, 5 November 2013 (VIS) – Below, in full (from Vatican Information Services), is the preparatory document for the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (to be held October 5-19, 2014) on the theme “The pastoral challenges for the family in the context of evangelisation”.


Click here to access the document



Fr.Paul's Sermons - Use the media player below to listen

Fr. Paul




The most authoritative account of the history of the parish is William Hendrie’s St Michael’s Catholic Church, Linlithgow, 1893-1993, published on the centenary of the building of the church. The mission (as it was before it became a parish) was first dedicated to St Joseph. It was changed to St Michael in 1887, though the school, built just before the church, was dedicated to St Joseph. These notes are derived from diocesan archives at present deposited in the Scottish Catholic Archives, Columba House, in Edinburgh, and from the valuation rolls in Linlithgow Public Library.
The Catholics of Linlithgow in the 1850s, as in other areas of West Lothian, were overwhelmingly Irish immigrants, who arrived in Scotland in great numbers after the Irish potato famine. They were poor and constituted indeed a church of the poor. The first priest in charge of the mission, the Rev Francis McKerrell, served from 1851-1853. His mission included Bo’ness and Bathgate. He lived in a rented house in Linlithgow Bridge. His successor, Andrew Dempsey (1853-1857) noted in his annual returns to the bishop that his charge of Linlithgow, Bo’ness and Bathgate measured twelve miles in area with a population of 1300 Catholics.
At first Mass was celebrated in a hired room. Francis McKerrell remarked in August 1852 on “the urgent need of a Chapel in the Linlithgow Mission. There at present the faithful are obliged to meet for worship in a most inconvenient room, destitute we may say of all the requisites for religiously worshipping God.” The Catholic Directory for 1855 records that “Public Service” – the word ‘Mass’ would have been too provocative for the Protestant population of the time – was held every second Sunday at 9 and 11.30. On the other Sundays the priest had to travel to Bathgate for Mass. The parish accounts for 1857 reveal that it cost £26 “for driving to Bathgate for 52 Sundays.” A separate mission was established in Bathgate in 1858.
The priest continued to live in a rented house until the present house was built in 1890. However, it would have been a substantial dwelling, which included a separate room for a servant. The parish accounts for 1886 show that £20 a year was paid for the rent of a house. In about 1880 it was £18. By 1886 the rent had gone up to £22.10s.
Rent also had to be paid for a hall in which to say Mass. In 1857 that rent was £15.  By that date, according to the valuation rolls, the hall was located at 310 High Street  (roughly where the Health Centre now is) and the owners of the property were “Mr Ritchie, Edinburgh, and Miss R.I.A. Spence”. Previously it had been a “tan yard and cutting shop”, also known as “Spence’s Tannery”.  In 1876 the Baird Hall (now a private house at 224 High Street), which had been a sessional school since 1863, was bought for the mission.  The new chapel could seat 250 people. The mission was now in debt. In 1880, James McCartney, now in charge of the mission, wrote to Archbishop John Strain: “After a good deal of struggling through very hard times, I have managed to be able to reduce the debt on Linlithgow Chapel by £50 more, which will now leave the debt at £300.”  The Catholic population was then 525. By 1882 the debt was only £12.
The Catholic population was growing. In 1881, the Rev John Lee reported that there were 680 Catholics, of which between 250 and 280 came to Mass on Sunday. The only group in the parish was “The Living Rosary Society”. Clearly the Baird Hall, with seating for only 250, was no longer big enough and Lee’s successor, the energetic and gifted John Murphy, set about plans for building the present church. Further, there had been no Catholic school. This was built just before the church. The final stages of the building of the school and church were supervised by the Rev Donald Easson (1890-1898). The original chapel at the Baird Hall was sold to the Church of Scotland.
Easson was an energetic pastor. In 1898 he was appointed Vice-Rector of the Scots College in Valladolid. The college was in a delapidated state and Easson was not looking forward to his appointment. On 12 March 1898 he wrote to Archbishop Angus MacDonald: “The financial condition of the College must be already at breaking point.” He then began organising collections for the College in the Scottish dioceses. However, the bishops decided against this. In September 1898, Easson wrote again to Archbishop MacDonald from St Margaret’s, Ayr, where he had preached at the opening of a chapel at Annbank, declaring that he would travel to Spain the following May, even though he was by no means looking forward to the prospect. But he noted: “The collection that has been so generously responded to in this Diocese [Galloway] will go some little way to make the college habitable”. He died at Vallodolid in March 1899, aged thirty-five. He had been a priest for twelve years, and for nine of them he had been the priest in charge of the mission at Linlithgow. There is a commemorative plaque on the wall of the church near the sacristy.

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Magnificat Group

The Church is opened mornings, MondaMagnificaty to Friday, between 7.30 & 8.00 AM for silent prayer and Eucharistic adoration. At 7.45 AM our small group recite the shortened form of morning prayer in the Magnificat magazine, which takes less than 10 minutes. A free copy of the February issue and subscription forms for Magnificat are available at the back of the Church. If you are interested, please contact Pat Kearns for further details








email: or phone 842 298 (Click here to download the flyer)

  • This is also known as the Breviary or the Divine Office.
  • Consider how our prayer life has developed or has it since our childhood?

A bit of background.

The early Christians would have gathered in the morning and evening for prayer and praise and recited psalms and scripture in a recurring cycle. By tradition the Book of Psalms is considered an essential ingredient of the Liturgy of the Hours as psalms had an honoured place in Jewish piety.

By the 3rd century Christians prayed at 9am, 12 noon, 3pm, 12pm, at cock crow, plus morning and evening prayers – in all 7 times. These times are relevant in Our Lord’s passion and are rooted in the Paschal Mystery. Today in most monasteries they still pray 7 times.

The morning and evening prayers, sometimes referred to Lauds and Vespers, are considered the most important. The psalms are often sung when in community.

After the first centuries of Christianity the recitation of the Psalms and scripture passages from the Divine office would have been left to the professionals - the clergy, monks and nuns. By the 12th century the Divine Office would have been said only in Latin.

The Second Vatican Council looked to renew the emphasis on the whole People of God and encourage more laity to find spiritual nourishment from the official Morning and Evening prayer of the Church. The Liturgy of the Hours is the public prayer of the Church and is intended to be the prayer of the whole church and laity are encouraged to recite the Liturgy with priests, in a group or even individually. Remember even if you are praying it individually, there are thousands of people doing the same at the same time 24 hours per day.

Many of the changes made by Vatican II regarding the Liturgy of the Hours are contained within the Council’s first conciliar document Sacrosanctum Concilium – The Sacred Liturgy, in December 1963 - and we also read in the Catechism CCC 1178, that this part of our Liturgy is like an extension to the Eucharistic celebration. Perhaps the biggest changes were to simplify the Liturgy of Hours and permit the use of the vernacular


I will highlight the structure of the morning and evening prayers as these are considered to be the hinges of the Daily Office

The full Liturgy of the hours is contained within 3 books. There is a shortened version which is useful to take on holiday etc as well as a larger daily version which contains most of the Liturgical Feast days. The prayers rotate around a four week cycle known as the Psalter, and there are a number of alternative prayers and readings for certain liturgical days e.g. at Easter, Christmas etc as well as for feast days and saints Memoria or optional Memoria. You will be able to find where we are by looking up an appropriate internet site or by looking at the Ordo.

The Divine Office starts with a short introduction followed by a hymn. It is fair to say that the hymns contained within the books are limited and can be changed to suit the assembly.

Following the Hymn we have in the morning prayers a Psalm, then an Old Testament canticle and then a Psalm of Praise. In the evening we have two Psalms followed by a New Testament canticle. Before and after each of the Psalms there is a short antiphon which provides a focus for meditation.

We then have a short Scriptural passage followed by a short responsory.

Next in the morning we have the Benedictus, which is the cancticle of Zachariah and in the evening the Magnificat, the canticle of Mary. Both are from Luke’s Gospel.

The Liturgy of the Hours concludes with Intercessions for the needs of the world and the Church – then follows The Lord’s prayer and the collect for the day. Where there is an ordained minister there would be a blessing.

It is normal in this group prayer to split into two, the first saying the first verse the second group the second verse and alternate thereafter. The psalms are not a race and should be said at a fairly slow pace.

The leader will recite the opening antiphon for each psalm followed by the first line. We stand for the introduction, the hymn and the first line of the opening psalm and then sit down until the Benedictus (or Magnificat) when we again stand.

Ideally in community a different person would read the scripture reading and another say the intercessions with everyone joining the responses. Again if there is an ordained minister in the congregation they would say the concluding prayer with a blessing.

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All the Gospels agree that Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist and all of them reveal a kind of awkwardness about that. Why should Jesus be baptised by John the Baptist? Jesus is sinless, the Messiah bringing a baptism that would supersede that of John – as John himself says: “I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Maybe being baptised by John the Baptist was Jesus’ way of identifying with all human beings – a way of saying “I am human”. When Jesus descended into the waters of Baptism, he entered intothe whole of the human condition. He enters into suffering, sin and death. He becomes a brother to sinners – a brother to us all.
Jesus did not set himself apart from others or proclaim his superiority. He does not say – I am the Messiah and I am here! He appears on the scene as one of the crowd. In order to lead people into the kingdom of God, Jesus goes through the only door that is open to people – that of being human – our human life. And then we are told that “heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily shape, like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, the Beloved, my favour rests on you.”
Surely this was the decisive experience in the life of Jesus. He experienced the love of the Father – he discovered his own identity as the beloved Son of God. And He now disovered his vocation – what his mission was. It would be to enable others to become sons and daughters of God by being a brother to them. Notice that Jesus discovers who he is by entering into communion with others – he discovers his unique individual identity through relationship with others. Relationship with God is not private – not just me and God. It is always us and God, and is always connected with our relationships with other people.
When we pray, we pray as people in communion with others. Even when we pray alone, we pray as people connected with Christ and the whole Church. St Cyprian of Carthage, who was martyred in the third century, left a remarkable teatise on the Lord’s Prayer, which is the model for all Christian prayer. St Cyprian says this:
Before all things, theTeacher of peace and the Master of unitywould not have prayer to be made singly and individually, as for one who prays for himself alone. For we say not “My Father which art in heaven” nor “Give me this day my daily bread”, nor does each one ask that only his own tresspass should be forgiven him; nor does he request for himself alone that he maynot be led into temptation, and delivered from evil. Our prayer is public and common, and when we pray, we pray not for one but for the whole people, because we the whole people are one.
In the next century, St Ambrose of Milan, quoting from Matthew’s Gospel, said that, when we pray, we should go to our own private room deep within us, where we can encounter the Lord. But that room within us, says Ambrose, is a room withour walls. There we are connected with the Lord and the whole Church. In the seventeenth century, St Vincent de Paul said that of you areat your prayers, and a poor man knocks on your door in search of sustencance, you must leave your prayers and see to the poor man. One could translate that to family life. If you are at your prayers and your child needs something from you, then see to your child first before you pray. There is not just me and God with other people being a distraction. There is only us and God.
The way Jesus was the beloved son of God was by being human – being a brother to others – being in communion with others. And the way we are to live out our identity as sons and daughters of God is by being a brother or sister to others – being in communion with others. When we receive Christ in Holy Communion we receive him and we receive one another. The church is communion – not just a community. Through our baptism we enter into relationship with God and with every other human being. This is why we go to church and do not just sit at home praying by ourselves. We really do need one another. And if we do not come here on Sunday, then we deprive others as well as ourselves.
“You are my Son, the Beloved; my favourrests on you.” God says that about Jesus and about all of us. When we are baptised we become children of God. The starting point of our relationship with God is that we are beloved sons and daughters and we are to live our lives in accordance with that dignity. By becoming one with other human beings, Jesus experienced being the beloved Son of God and he gives us the same thing. When we live in communion with others, when we share and give of ourselves, we discover who we really are – the sons and daughters of love and brothers and sisters to one another.
Homilies: Epiphany; 2013
The story of the wise men occurs only in Matthew’s Gospel. Most scholars now think that this is not history but a legend woven by Matthew out of Isaiah’s prophecy in the first reading. The legend points to Jesus as the Messiah for pagans as well as Jews and the wise men represent the pagans.. But there could be a historical basis to the story. The wise men are recognisable as Zoroastrians – Zoroastrianism was the religion of ancient Persia for 3000 years before the Islamic invasions of the 7th century. There are still some Zoroastrians left in Iran where they are known as fire-worshippers; and the present day Pharsis of Mumbai are the Zoroastrian descendants of refugees from fleeing from the Islamic onvasion of Iran in the seventh century. Zoroastrians believe in a God of light who is in perpetual conflict with the forces of darkness. They too believed in a coming Messiah whose virgin birth, announced by a bright star, would herald the reign of Justice.
The wise men bring gift of gold, frankincense and myrrh, which have been given a Christian interpretation. Gold is the gift for a king. Frankincense is what one offers to God. And myrrh was used to anoint the bidy of Jesus after his crucifixion. But in Persia or Iran these were the ingredients of magic potions and the stock in trade of the Persian magi. In particular myrrh was regarded as something with healing properties. In handing these things over to Jesus, the wise men were handing over to Jesus the symbols of their former paganism.
We all have our areas of paganism – areas of life which are not quite connected up with our Christian faith. Conversion to Christ is always an ongoing and gradual process as more of our lives are handed over to him.We also live in a secular society, with very different values to those of our faith and we are all affected by that. In people’s homes, even those of Christian believers, the kinds of symbols on display – picture, ornaments – are increasingly less Christian and more secular. Indeed they can be symbols of paganism. Very often there is no crucifix or recognisable holy picture or statue anywhere. I invite you to go back to your houses and look and what you have on your walls and mantelpieces. What do the symbols there speak of? What symbol speaks of your faith in Jesus Christ? And if there are other symbols there, what do they speak of?
The most precious thing we can give to Christ is that which he has not got – areas of our lives where we do not invite him. For example, a young couple may decide, instead of just living together, to get married – to invite God into their relationship – and then their relationship becomes so much more – it becomes an image of God and a way in which God comes into the world. To take another example, take the Lord to work with you. When you are at work, just think for a moment while you are there of your faith and how you can do your job differently because of what you believe and because of your commitment to the Gospel.
Our areas of lack of faith can become faith when handed over to Christ. Our areas of sinfulness can become giftedness. The New Testament Greek word for sin literally means “missing the mark”. We miss the mark when we try to keep God out of our lives. Christ wants to come into every one of our lives – not to control us or dominate us – but to lead us to freedom and life in abundance. For the whole of Advent we were inviting Christ to come to us. Now is the season for receiving him.
Homilies: CHRISTMAS HOMILY; 2012
At Christmas we celebrate the coming of God into the world in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the Word made flesh, God become human. God is now found in a human body with a human heart. And God has not just come into our world out there a long time ago – but has come into our lives. That is where we find God. Sometimes people speak of God as a hypothesis – a way of explaining the universe. Believing in God becomes a matter of intellectual opinion. Faith is a lot more than that! God is personal – comes into our experience – there in our lives inviting our trust – enabling us to love – leading us into the fullness of life. God is there whether we are aware of it or not. Faith is waking up to the reality of God who is there and living a life that reveals God as love.
For the people of the Old Testament, God is revealed gradually. At first they believed in a mighty and all powerful God who was dangerous to cross. Then there comes another stage of faith as God is gradually revealed: Noah worked with God, rather than taking orders from on high. God works with creatures. Abraham talked to God and found that God was his friend. Isaac found that God told him not to be afraid and that God was with him. Jacob wrestled with God as we all do and found that he was held by God. Moses spoke with God and found that God was a God of compassion who heard the cry of his people and who would set them free. Above all God was there – present to his people - the divine name revealed to Moses means “God is there”. He is also called Emmanuel – God with us.
I am not the first to say this. St Peter Chrysologos, who was Archbishop of Ravenna in the first half of the fifth century, said it in one of his famous sermons. He left four hundred sermons and what makes them so interesting is that he lived in the same world that had been evangelised bythe apostles four hundred years before. The sermons point to what was so attractive about the Christian faith to the people of that time. The Roman Empire was still there, albeit cracking at the seams and now a highly insercure edifice; and though Christianity had been the official religion of the empire since the time of Constantine in the 330s, years, pagan religions and superstition were still prevalent.
Fear was a big thing in people’s lives because there were so many things to be afraid of. People were surrounded by death. Those who were ill usually died. Most children did not live to maturity. If the harvests failed, there was the fear of starvation. If you went on a journey, you might fear being attacked by robbers. If you travelled by sea, there was always the possibility of shipwreck. And people were frightened of the gods who controlled everything; and so religion meant placating the gods. But along comes Christ and tells people not be afraid. St Peter says: “As God sees the world tottering to ruin because of fear, he acts unceasingly to bring it back by love.” Christ offers love, not fear and promises that love will have the last word in our lives. There is plenty of fear in our world and God acts now in all our lives to bring us back by love. God is there but not in an overwhelming way. The shepherds found that God was not an overwhelming presence – he was a baby in a manger. In the same way God is present to us in our own lives in gentle ways.
The shepherds were told: “Here is a sign for you…” It is a sign of love, peace, reconciliation. Look into your own lives and see how many signs there are that speak of the same things and the reality of God who is there and in whom you can believe.

Click the following links to view 'Year Of Faith' liturgical resources

Scottish Bishops Web Page For Year of Faith

Vatican Web Page For Year of Faith


Individuals, couples or a complete family team would be most welcome.  The more the merrier!  If you would like to help us serve the parish then please contact Stevie Gallacher via phone 07925-143350 OR email


If you are already a member click here to view the latest rota









There are a number of different ways you can be getting involved with the churcht; a vibrant parish community depends on people being prepared to take part in a number of important tasks


Click here for further information about our Church Ladies' Club

St Michael’s is a Fairtrade Church and belongs to a Fairtrade diocese

This means that we have undertaken to use Fairtrade tea and coffee after services and in all meetings for which we have responsibility, move forward on using other Fairtrade products such as sugar, biscuits and fruit and Promote Fairtrade during Fairtrade Fortnight and during the year through events, worship and other activities whenever possible.

Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices (which must never fall lower than the market price), Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives. Fairtrade ensures farmers and workers receive an additional Fairtrade Premium to invest in developing their communities.



The FAIRTRADE Mark is an independent consumer label which appears on UK products as a guarantee that they have been certified against internationally agreed Fairtrade standards. It shares internationally recognized Fairtrade standards with initiatives in 20 other countries, working together globally with producer networks as Fairtrade Labeling Organisations International (FLO). The Mark indicates that the product has been certified to give a better deal to the producers involved – it does not act as an endorsement of an entire company’s business practices.


The FAIRTRADE Mark gives a guarantee to consumers that the farmers and workers have been paid a fair and stable price which covers the cost of sustainable production. for more information