Annual Pilgrimage to Scalan – 300th Anniversary of the Foundation of the College

The Annual Pilgrimage to Scalan is held on the First Sunday of July, to commemorate its history.  In the 18th Century it offered a place of seclusion in the isolated Braes of Glenlivet for the training of Catholic Priests, ensuring the survival of the Catholic faith during the Penal times.

This year’s pilgrimage was especially significant as it marked the 300th Anniversary of the foundation of the college in 1716.

In the region of 260 people travelled across Scotland to join the celebration.  The typical Scottish Summer weather (sunshine, intermingled with showers and blustery winds) could not dampen the spirits of the faithful. 

The chief celebrant Archbishop Leo Cushley of St. Andrews and Edinburgh was joined by Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow, Archbishop Emeritus Mario Conti of Glasgow, Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, Bishop William Nolan of Galloway, along with priests from throughout Scotland, including Fr Jim Thomson (St. Mary’s Lanark) and Fr. John Allen (St. Ninian’s Inverness).  The music was expertly organised by Fr. Colin Stewart (St. Sylvester’s Elgin)

Bishop Hugh Gilbert OSB of Aberdeen sent his apologies.  He was unable to be with us as he was presiding at the ordination of Andrew Niski to the Diaconate on 2nd July in St. John’s Seminary in Surrey. 

At the end of the mass Archbishop Mario Conti blessed a commemorative plaque.  Everyone was encouraged to look at information boards detailing the history of the Seminary, and around the building which has undergone further restoration.  The ground floor comprises a living room, Masters study, private room and dining room.  At the centre the narrow stairway is now open to the public, and leads to the dormitory, Master’s bedroom and study, and the simple chapel at the north end with its small wooden altar. A further stairway leads to the attic space.

A new Scalan book was on sale, with the author John Watts signing copies, and hot and cold drinks were available, encouraging people to mingle, and catch up with old friends, and new, before commencing the long (in some cases) trek home.  A thoroughly enjoyable day!


Photos from the day:



Preparing for Mass


The congregation. Photo by Duncan Macpherson


Photo by Duncan Macpherson


Photo by Duncan Macpherson


Archbishop Leo Cushley. Photo by Duncan Macpherson



Priestly gathering. Photo by Duncan Macpherson


Bishop Hay’s chalice, with the commemoration plaque


The chapel