BY Ryan McDougall | August 30 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

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Pilgrims gather for Mass on the beach during annual pilgrimage to St Ninian’s Cave

Nearly 500 Catholics from across Scotland and beyond paid homage to the saint who brought Christianity to Scotland nearly 1,600 years ago.

As part of the annual Galloway Diocese pilgrimage to Whithorn, Bishop William Nolan led pilgrims to the cave of St Ninian, celebrating Mass outside on the beach.

The cave is said to have been Ninian’s place of retreat.

Fr Stephen McGrattan, parish priest of St Joseph’s Church in Kilmarnock, was with many of his parishioners on the pilgrimage. He said the pilgrimage was enhanced by the nice weather and spoke of the importance of remembering St Ninian.

Passing down the Faith

He added: “It gives a sense of continuity of passing on the Faith from when St Ninian first arrived on those shores, and reminds you that often you see the difficult things going on in our moment of history, but this shows that our Faith is strong and the Church has survived through difficult times.

“Bishop Nolan mentioned the pilgrimage to the Pope last September during the Ad Limina visit, and [the Pope] was encouraged to hear that we are still honouring St Ninian and paying homage to him.”

St Ninian

In his homily, Bishop Nolan spoke of vocations and St Ninian’s journey in bringing Christianity to Scotland.

Fr McGrattan said: “The bishop spoke about Ninian following Christ, sharing everything he had. His wealth of Faith and talents.

“The highlight of the pilgrimage would be the Mass itself, as you get the chance to see some familiar faces that you might not have seen since the year before.”

Near and far

At this year’s pilgrimage, groups from as far as Dundee travelled to honour the saint, and Catholics of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham also took part.

Fr McGrattan credited the laity for having helped ensure the pilgrimage was a success, and gave credit to the 91st Ayrshire Scouts, based in Kilmarnock, who arrived at the pilgrimage site the evening prior to help set up the altar on the beach and clear the pathways.

“The pilgrimage really couldn’t have gone ahead without the tremendous work of the Scouts, they were exemplary,” he said.

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