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Record first as continuous Rosary prayed during Ben Nevis ascent

It is said to have been the first of its kind. — By Ryan McDougall

A new record was set on Ben Nevis last Sunday as a group of intrepid Catholics prayed a continuous Rosary as they ascended Scotland’s highest peak.

Calum MacFarlane-Barrow, founder of the Craig Lodge House of Prayer, led a group of around 15 people up Scotland’s highest Munro which peaks at 4,409ft, where they continuously prayed the Rosary in what he previously said was probably the first of its kind, although Mass has been celebrated at the peak before.

The group were initially due to ascend the Munro on Saturday September 1, but due to a race taking place, they decided to reschedule to the Sunday.

At 85-years-old, Mr MacFarlane-Barrow managed to conquer just over two thirds of the Grampian giant, but ultimately had to call time on his hike due to his bad knee.

“We prayed the Rosary to St Columba continuously,” he said, thrilled that his team of faithful climbers managed to reach the summit.

Mr MacFarlane-Barrow said: “We took with us the intentions of all the good people who had written to us wishing us luck.

“It was a very positive experience, all the people were very joyous and put in a lot of effort, although some of them were quite tired and sore on the way down—it was a very good occasion indeed.

“I’m so glad I made it up to the 3,000ft level, my knee held up really well.”

Feeling better after a good night’s rest, Mr MacFarlane-Barrow said he and his knee have recovered and is ‘feeling great.’

At the crest of the Ben, one young man, Patrick, played the bagpipes to mark the group’s mammoth achievement, both spiritual and physical.

“It was a privilege to have led this Rosary,” Mr MacFarlane-Barrow added.

“It was so important to me, it was such an important witness to prayer, especially to pray the Rosary.

“That’s the thing about the Rosary, you can pray it anywhere, even at the top of Ben Nevis!”

Mr MacFarlane-Barrow’s daughter, Ruth Black, was also amongst the group.

Although tired and, like her father, nursing sore knees, she said: “It was a great thing to be part of, I found it tough but there was something very beautiful about being part of a group covering Ben Nevis in prayer.

“As it’s quite busy, a lot of people passed by, so I like to think we were blessing them too.

“The forecast wasn’t to be great. We even had a meeting the night before, and prayed to St Columba to calm the storm, as he was known to have waned bad weather.”

The group’s prayers ultimately came through for them, as Mrs Black said the weather held off until the last half-hour of their climb back down.

She joked that only ‘sheer prayer and jelly babies’ kept her going throughout the day, and that she was ‘very impressed’ with her father toughing it out and doing so well in the climb.

“I was really worried about him at first,” she said.

“I’d be telling him, ‘Dad, you only have to do a little,’ but he’s the kind of character who would maybe do a bit too much, but after making it to the 3,000 mark he’d had enough I think.”

The Rosary, held in support of Craig Lodge, launched a fundraising campaign in order to ensure the future of the retreat house is maintained.

It has so far raised just over 80 per cent of its target (£8,176), which will go towards the Medjugorje-inspired community, delivering spiritual refreshment, healing, prayer and events.

Mrs Black said: “People have been really generous in their donations so far, it all helps the Craig Lodge House of Prayer hugely.”


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