The late captain A.E.Borthwick painted his famous picture of "The Presence" in 1910, and presented it to the Cathedral authorities in 1944. It now hangs in the North Choir Aisle and attracts large numbers of visitors from both sides of the Atlantic. Borthwick's painting had many adventures before it found its permanent home in St Mary's Cathedral. Shortly after it was finished, the picture was exhibited throughout the British Isles before being sent to Germany for reproductions to be made. When the First World War broke out it was still in Munich and, instead of being returned to its owner, "The Presence" was sold to an American. No more was heard of the picture for some time and then it came to light when a New York newspaper answered a query, "Is religion dead?" with an article showing a section of Borthwick's painting as an illustration, and saying, "No, because of Christ's abiding presence in his Church." At the conclusion of hostilities, a special Act of Congress was passed, enabling the picture to be returned to Scotland and preventing it from being sold as confiscated enemy property. During the Second World War, "The Presence" was preserved in the vaults of the Royal Scottish Academy and, in December 1944, the artist and his wife presented it to the Cathedral.
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