Celebrating after 770 years

Father Andrew Kingham and Rev. Dr Ann Alison
Father Andrew Kingham and Rev. Dr Ann Alison

It was a very special occasion for the community of Crail recently as Crail Kirk celebrated the 770th anniversary of the dedication of the church to Saint Maelrubha of Applecross.

The church opened its doors to the public for a week of celebration, and Crail Museum helped mount a display, including a translation of the original Latin dedication service, church records, pulpit falls - including a number made by the Sunday Club - and an old Cope and Vestments from Holy Trinity Church, Crail.

What is now the Parish Kirk of Crail was founded in the second half of the twelfth century, though the site appears to have older religious associations, going back to the early years of Christianity.

In the early thirteenth century a tower was added at the west end and the original nave was re-built with arcades of six gothic arches opening to north and south aisles and a new arch opening to the chancel.

It was in this form that the building was dedicated to Saint Maelrubha of Applecross in Wester Ross on 21st June 1243 by David de Bernham, Bishop of St. Andrews.

Saint Maelrubha, known as the red priest, was born in 642 in Derry, but at around the age of 30, took the path of many Irish monks and cut himself off from his homeland, choosing a foreign land in which to go wandering for Christ.

After two years’ missionary work round the north-west of Scotland he settled in the remote peninsula of Apercrossan, or Applecross as we now know it, remaining there until his death in 722, aged 80.

Recognising a common heritage, the week of celebration concluded with a shared joint service of Holy Trinity Church and Crail Kirk on June 23.

Father Andrew Kingham and Reverand Dr Ann Alison conducted a joint service which was rounded off with an excellent ‘pot luck supper’ and evening of fellowship, held in the Kirk Hall, and with all made warmly welcome.

A bookmark commemorating the anniversary was presented to all pupils of Crail Primary School, with some of these bookmarks and parish magazines, along with many other materials, also found their way into a time capsule buried by school pupils alongside a rose bed in front of the Kirk.