This website is best viewed with CSS and JavaScript enabled, alternatively you can use the low bandwidth version.

Ancient Feud Forgotten

Posted on: May 12, 2000 11:37 AM
Related Categories: Scotland

During the siege of Haddington by the English in 1548, a peal of bells disappeared from St Mary's Kirk. The Scots allege the bells were carried off to Durham Cathedral, but the English claim they were melted down for military ordnance. The siege was part of an English attempt to coerce the Scots Parliament to accept Henry VIII's proposal that Mary Stuart should marry Prince Edward (later Edward VI).

But all this will be forgotten when on 13 May a peal of bells rings out from the tower of St Mary's Haddington, in Scotland's East Lothian region. The bells were purchased in 1999 by the Friends of St Mary's from a church in Aberdeenshire. As well as marking the end of the four-century Anglo-Scottish feud, the bells will also welcome hundreds of pilgrims to Scotland's largest Parish Kirk.

This is the 30th annual pilgrimage from Whitekirk to Haddington, and is a major ecumenical events. All denominations are able to worship according to their own rites, and the pilgrimage begins with a Church of Scotland Communion and prayers for the sick in Whitekirk.

Recently pilgrims have come from all over the British Isles, as well as from France, Germany, Spain, North America and South East Asia.

The medieval pilgrimage was revived in the 1960s when the present earl of Lauderdale inherited a side chapel in St Mary's Kirk. He learned that when rebuilt in the 15th century, the church contained an "Alterage of the Blessed Virgin and the Three Kings". This was supposed to have been a replacement of a famous shrine to the Virgin at Whitekirk which was very popular until ravished by English invaders.

The Archbishop of Edinburgh will preside at a Roman catholic Mass, while during the afternoon the Bishop of Moray, of the Scottish Episcopal Church, will celebrate a Eucharist using an ancient Celtic liturgy. The main preacher will be the Rt Revd John Cairns, Moderator of this year's General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland.

Counselling, prayer, the laying on of hands, and anointing will be a feature of the day, with a special healing service for those who wish to attend. The day will end with compline at Whitekirk.

Although the pilgrimage is a Christian event, members ad followers of other faiths are welcome. One year Lord Lauderdale felt a tap on his shoulder by a couple who said: "We're Buddhists but we think this is great and we bring you a blessing of peace."