Pope Benedict XVI singled out the University of St Andrews during a Mass celebrated during his first papal visit to the UK.
On the first day of his visit the pontiff led an open-air Mass in Glasgow that was attended by 70,000 people.
In the course of the Mass Pope Benedict said “Here in Scotland, I think of the three medieval universities founded here by the popes, including that of St Andrews which is beginning to mark the 600th anniversary of its foundation.”
Although teaching began here at Scotland’s first university in 1410, the University was not officially constituted until a series of Papal Bulls issues by Pope Benedict XIII in 1413.
An original copy of one of the six Papal Bulls is held in the library’s Special Collections Team.
This Papal Bull contains the University’s 1412 charter, which was issued by Bishop Henry Wardlaw. The charter recognised academics at the University as being part of a formally constituted corporation. It also marked the birth of the third oldest university in the English-speaking world.
The document has recently undergone conservation work in preparation for celebrations beginning in 2011 to mark the University’s anniversary.
As part of the papal trip, Dr Louise Richardson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, was invited to meet with Pope Benedict XVI and Queen Elizabeth in Edinburgh.
Pope Benedict’s visit is the first time a pontiff has come to the UK since Pope John Paul’s visit in 1982.
It is also the first time the pope has been invited by the Queen rather than the Church, thereby making it a state visit.