St Giles' Cathedral

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St. Giles' Cathedral, sometimes called also High Kirk, is a church standing approximately in the middle of the Royal Mile. It has been one of the focal points of religion in Edinburgh for nearly 900 years. It is as well regarded as the mother church of Presbyterianism. It is a parish church of the Church of Scotland. It is dedicated to saint patron named Giles, who was the patron of cripples and lepers during the Middle Ages. He is aw ell the saint patron of the city.

The first parish church is Edinburgh existed probably even several centuries before 1243, when the bishop of St. Andrews formally dedicated the church. Subsequently it was reconstructed and renamed after St. Giles. In 1385 it was partially burned. However, it was quickly repaired. In subsequent years many chapels were added, for example a chapel for a relic of St Giles. By the middle of the 16th century, there were around fifty altars in the church.

The church was not looted during the Reformation. However, its interior was divided and for the next 300 years it served different purposes. The building housed a police station, a fire station, a school and a coal store, as well as the Scottish guillotine, and in one corner there was a prison used for "harlots and whores". Moreover, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Parliament and the Town Council met in the building.

In 1633, King Charles I appointed Scottish Episcopal bishops in Scotland and in 1635 William Forbes became the first bishop of the new diocese of Edinburgh, with St Giles’ as its cathedral, which it remained until 1638 and again from 1661-1689.

There were two major reconstructions held in the 19th century. Many of the chapels were demolished, the building was cleaned and old galleries and partition walls were removed, and thus creating a single interior space. New stained glass was put into the windows.

Sir Robert Lorimer completed the Thistle Chapel in 1911. It was used by the Knights of the Thistle, Scotland's order of chivalry. It is a small, but exquisite, chapel with carved and painted fittings of extraordinary detail.
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