The Catholic Church was started in Scotland by the early Saints - Ninian, Columba, Aidan, Mungo & Cuthbert. The organised Church dates from the time of St. Margaret, wife of Malcolm Canmore, in the 11th Century. The foundations laid by St. Margaret were built on by her son, David I, when he succeeded to the throne in 1124.
Before his accession, David, then Earl of Lothian, founded many religious institutions. This included Newbattle Abbey, just a mile or so to the south west from here, dedicated to Our Lady and put into the care of Cistercian monks from Melrose.
The success of the Church in acquiring wealth, land and properties was one of the factors which lead to the Reformation in the mid 1500s, with its destruction of many fine buildings and the virtual extinction of the Catholic Church in Scotland for around 300 years.
By the mid 1800s there was a relaxation of the penal laws against Catholics. An influx of 15,000, mainly Catholic, immigrants from Ireland into the Edinburgh area followed the potato famine. These large numbers needed Churches which they could attend - stations were opened at a number of places including Dalkeith.
Lady Cecil, Dowager Marchioness of Lothian, was received into the Catholic Church in London around this time. Her first care, on her return to Scotland to take up residence at Newbattle, was to build a Church in the area and dedicate it to St. David.
The Church of St. David’s, Dalkeith, formally opened on Sunday, 21st May 1854. Fr. Mackay served as the first priest, followed in 1858 by Fr. J.S. McCorry who had preached at the official opening. Lady Lothian requested that the Jesuits be given charge of the Dalkeith mission and they subsequently served here from 1860 until 1944. Our current priest follows on in the tradition of the priests who have faithfully served the Catholics of St. David’s Parish.
Education has always been very important in St. David’s. A school was opened in the autumn of 1854. In 1876, the Sisters of Mercy came from St. Catherine’s Convent in Edinburgh to take over the teaching and this arrangement continued until around 1940. Secondary education moved from Loreto School, Musselburgh to St. David’s High, Dalkeith in 1966.
(Much condensed from the 1954 Centenary Celebrations Booklet (3.5MB) & 1977 Solemn Dedication Booklet (20.6MB) which contain lots of details and are held by the parish priest,
There is a longer illustrated article than this page in the Spring 2014 Parish Magazine pages 14-16.