BY Ryan McDougall | July 19 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


‘God is not limited by size’ says the owner of the world’s tiniest chapel

‘God is not limited by size and can be found in a tiny flower or the whole universe,’ the owner of what may be the world’s smallest chapel has said.

Bed & Breakfast owner Anne Dobson lives on Yell, a remote island off the coast of mainland Shetland, and after years of making a 100-mile-round trip to and from Mass, she had her own little ‘Sixteen Chapel’ built on the sight of a former chicken shed.

The tiny chapel, big enough for just one person at a time, was blessed recently by Lerwick priest Fr Ambrose Flavell.

While it is too small for organised services, Mrs Dobson and her husband Peter highlighted that it has already become an important attraction for guests staying at their B&B, The Old Post Office.


Welcomed by the community

“We live right by the ferry so a lot of people stay at our house, and quite a few people have already come to visit,” she said.

“There are lots of places of worship around Shetland, and it’s been very encouraging as the chapel’s been welcomed by all the communities here as there isn’t another Catholic Church anywhere unless I go to Lerwick, which is a 100-mile journey there and back.”

The ‘Sixteen chapel’ is a play on words, referring to the Sistine Chapel in Rome.

The chapel is thought to be the smallest church in the world, with the Cross Island Chapel in New York as a close contender.



Referring to its size, Mrs Dobson added: “The most important thing is its purpose. God’s not limited by size, and can be found in a tiny flower or the whole universe.

“It’s early days for the chapel, but I think sometimes God sends you an idea, you live with the idea for a while and then it develops into something.

“This was something I think we were moved to do by Him.”


All faiths and none

The project brought communities of all faiths and none together, who were supportive of Mr and Mrs Dobson’s little chapel from the start.

Locals donated recycled and gifted materials, with some people giving old fencing and fence posts which were used to construct the chapel roof.

Mrs Dobson teaches at Baltasound Junior High School in Unst, and staff there kindly donated windows for the chapel.

Mr and Mrs Dobson moved to Yell from Dorset eight years ago, and her former parish priest from Portsmouth gave the couple four icons for the chapel.


Spiritual needs

Although it was blessed by a Catholic priest, Mrs Dobson hopes people of all faiths who find themselves visiting Yell can visit it for their spiritual needs.

“A lot of people look for a peaceful place to get away from their busy lives,” she explained.

“It just occurred to me we should have a place open for everybody, no matter their religion—it’s for all faiths and none, as I think everyone needs a prayerful place sometimes.”

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