July 13th 1203
St John of DunkeldSt John of Dunkeld was unusual among Scottish saints in that he originally came from the village of Podock in England. He became Archdeacon of St Andrews, and when the see became vacant the Chapter chose him as their next bishop. This action infuriated the King (William the Lion) who had proposed his own personal chaplain, Hugo. Wielding his royal power, William banished Bishop John from St Andrews and installed Hugo.
In due course John made his way to Rome and put forward his grievances to the Pope who supported John’s claims and sent him back to Scotland with a Nuncio to enforce his position. King William was unmoved and a bitter dispute continued for some years with the Pope at one point threatening to lay the whole of Scotland under an interdict. Eventually the Bishop of Dunkeld died and showing a nice sense of compromise the Pope and the King both agreed that John should be the new Bishop of Dunkeld.
While at Dunkeld, John petitioned the Pope to allow him to remove the province of Argyll from the Diocese of Dunkeld and set it up as a new bishopric as “the people thereof only speak Irish” (Gaelic). He proposed his own chaplain, Eraldus, as the new Bishop as he was also a Gaelic speaker.
Pope Alexander was much impressed. “It is the study of others to enlarge their bounds and livings, not caring how it goeth with the people; and here is one that requesteth his benefice may be parted into two. Oh how few bishops are now in the Christian world so disposed!” Not a very flattering commentary on the general morality of bishops of these times.
Bishop John died on July 13th 1203. He was canonised after his death.