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Our Lady of Haddington

March 20, 2009

lauderdale-d-9-jan-2009Patrick, Earl of Lauderdale, has just died, aged 97. He was praised in his obituaries for a great mixture of services to Church and State. But one of his greatest achievements was hardly mentioned.

In the early 1970s, Patrick decided to reestablish the medieval shrine of Our Lady and the Three Kings in Haddington in Scotland. He determined to use the Lauderdale Aisle in the Parish (and therefore Presbyterian) Church of St Mary in Haddington, because this side chapel was in the ownership of the Earls of Lauderdale.

From the beginning, Patrick was sure that the shrine should be ecumenical. But the first pilgrimage was entirely Episcopalian; in fact, it consisted of just one coach load from my church in Edinburgh, St Michael & All Saints. I celebrated a quiet little Mass in the Lauderdale Aisle and we all had a picnic by the riverside near the church. There Patrick told us that he was restoring the shrine because Fr Hope Patten, the Restorer of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, had said to him as early as the 1950s that he should restore the shrine of Our Lady of Haddington.chapel-of-the-three-kings

After he had reasserted his family’s claim to the Aisle, Patrick commissioned a statue of the three Kings, based on an old seal where they were dressed in short Persian togas (which actually look very like Scottish kilts – the MacMagi?). This, together with a lovely carving of Our Lady and the Christ Child were set up in the Aisle, which was then consecrated as a chapel by the Bishop of Edinburgh.

Thereafter, the pilgrimages grew and  grew, not just Episcopalians, but Roman Catholics and Presbyterians too. Very soon, the little side chapel was quite inadequate, but thanks to Patrick’s charm and courtesy and genuine ecumenical zeal, the Minister and Kirk Session of St Mary’s gave permission for the Episcopal Mass to be celebrated in the main church on the biggest annual pilgrimage day.

In the late 80s I was asked to be the preacher at this great annual occasion, and I have a splendid picture which (improbable but true!) shows the Bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway in a white chasuble, concelebrating the Eucharist with the parish Minister in a black Geneva gown, while at the side of the sanctuary I am sitting with Keith, Cardinal O’Brian, the RC Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh.  Cardinal O’Brian’s face and mine both show identical expressions, which might be captioned: “Are we really seeing this?”

Well, we were. And it was all due to Patrick, Earl of Lauderdale. Requiescat in pace.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Hugh D' arcy permalink
    March 21, 2009 2:47 pm

    You can see most of Patrick Lauderdale’s requiem mass on youtube search word [lauderdale requiem] or [lampofthelothians] also a mass in the Lauderdale aisle celebrated by Fr Adnrew Crosby the Lauderdale’s chantry priest.

  2. saintclementsblog permalink*
    March 21, 2009 2:51 pm

    Thanks, Hugh. I wish I could have been there.

  3. Earl of Lauderdale permalink
    March 23, 2009 9:46 am

    Thank you for a lovely obituary. My father’s funeral requiem mass at St Mary’s Hadddington was celebrated by his son Sydney (using the Episcopalian rite) and attended by the Bishop of Edinburgh and the Cardinal Archbishop of St Andrews, who gave the address – and all this in the Kirk which John Knox attended as a young man.

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