St Magnus pilgrimage of peace launched
Publication Date: 2016-12-23
A unique pilgrimage is to take place in Orkney next summer to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the death of St Magnus.
All of Scotland’s bishops will attend, and Catholics from across the country are being urged to join them on the weekend of 28-30 July 2017.
The Orkney Isles are part of Aberdeen Diocese and Bishop Hugh Gilbert said the diocese is ‘blessed to include the islands of Orkney, so rich in history and prehistory, landscape and seascape, and kindly creative folk.’
“As Catholics we are also blessed by a culture of sanctity,” he went on. “We believe that the Body of Christ transcends time, and that the holy men and women of the past are still our companions today. In this coming 2017, Orkney is celebrating the 900th anniversary of its martyr for peace, Earl Magnus, a layman, a Norseman, a key figure in the Christianisation of the northern edges of Europe. The diocese of Aberdeen and the Catholic Church in Scotland wants to mark this anniversary too, and will be doing so on the weekend of 28 to 30 July 2017.”
The bishop said he had helped prepare—in consultation with the parishioners of the parish of Our Lady and St Joseph, Kirkwall, Fr Peter Kelly, and Orkney Council officers—an initial itinerary that will culminate in a Mass in the Cathedral of St Magnus in Kirkwall (right), at 2.30 on the afternoon of Sunday July 30.
“Our celebrations have met with the support of the Orkney Island Council, the Cathedral of St Magnus and other groups and churches,” he said. “Enthusiasm is growing. The diocese will be releasing fuller details of the pilgrimage imminently. At a time when there is often a deadly deficit of peace and reconciliation, this Pilgrimage will be a moment to celebrate and embody those very values. You are warmly invited.”
St Magnus is the patron saint of Orkney. He was killed on the island of Egilsay by his cousin Haakon. Although the actual date is known—April 16—the year is not, the most probable being 1117.
Magnus was declared a saint about 20 years after his death, there having been several miracles associated with him. His nephew, St Rognvald, built St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall to his memory, with construction starting in 1137.
Among the events planned are a serious of talks on St Magnus and his legacy, including news of the new pilgrimage route, the St Magnus Way, which will be inaugurated in 2017 covering 51 miles and following the probable route of St Magnus’s bones to the Cathedral. There will also be two smaller pilgrimages to both Egilsay and Birsay on the Saturday before the main event. Pilgrims interested in attending are being urged to make their travel and accommodation arrangements as soon as possible as the event will take place during peak tourist season.
—This story ran in full in the December 23 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.
PHOTO: David Stanley/Flickr.com