St Giles Cathedral
A prominent feature of the Edinburgh skyline, St. Giles' Cathedral or the High Kirk of Edinburgh is a Church of Scotland place of worship decorating the midpoint of the Royal Mile with its highly distinctive hollow-crown tower. The church has been one of Edinburgh's religious focal points for approximately 900 years. Today it is sometimes regarded as the mother church of Presbyterianism.
St. Giles was only a cathedral in its formal sense (ie. the seat of a bishop) for two periods during the 17th century (1635-38 and 1661-1689), when episcopalianism, backed by the Crown, briefly gained ascendancy within the Kirk (see Bishops Wars). In the mediaeval period, prior to the reformation, Edinburgh had no cathedral as the royal burgh was part of the Diocese of St Andrews, under the Bishop of St Andrews whose episcopal seat was St Andrew's Cathedral. For most of its post-reformation history the Church of Scotland has not had bishops, diocese, or cathedrals. As such, the use of the term Cathedral today carries no practical meaning. The "high kirk" title is older, being attested well before the building's brief stint as a cathedral.
It is the Church of Scotland parish church for part of Edinburgh's Old Town. Five services are held every Sunday, as well as daily services and special services for state and civic occasions. The current Minister (since 1973) of St. Giles' is the Very Reverend Dr Gilleasbuig Macmillan.
As the name implies, it is dedicated to St. Giles, who was the patron saint of cripples and lepers and a very popular saint in the Middle Ages. The oldest parts of the building are four massive central pillars, often said to date from 1124, although there is very little evidence to this effect. In 1385 the building suffered a fire and was rebuilt in the subsequent years. Much of the current interior dates from this period. Over the years many chapels, referred to as 'aisles', were added, greatly enlarging the church and leaving it rather irregular in plan. In 1466 St Giles was established as a collegiate church. In response to this raising of status, the lantern tower was added around 1490, and the chancel ceiling raised, vaulted and a clear storey installed. By the middle of the 16th century (before the Reformation) there were about fifty altars in the church.
Courtesty of Wikipedia