St Giles’ becomes a Collegiate Church
Edinburgh was always proud of St Giles’, and in the 15th century the town authorities decided that they would apply to have its standing raised to that of a collegiate church. Only the Pope could grant this enhanced status, and applicants had to prove that their church was already a large and beautiful building with splendid vestments, impressive church plate and a large enough income to support an increased number of clergy.
Petitions in 1419 and 1423 failed, but in 1466 King James III and the town sent another and the following February Pope Paul II granted the necessary permission.
In future, the Collegiate Church of St Giles’ would have increased facilities for holding Masses for the dead, which were very much in demand at that time. The St Giles’ vicar would now become its provost, similar to the dean of a cathedral. There would be fourteen prebendaries, who were like cathedral canons. They would provide daily Masses for the souls of King James III and his ancestors, as well as for all the other people commemorated at the many altars in the church. A sacristan would be responsible for the church plate and vestments and for making sure that the church bells were rung and the organs played. There would be a leader of the choir and four boy choristers. Not long afterwards, a song school was established in the churchyard, to train the choristers.
St Giles’ remained a collegiate church until the Reformation.