St Mary's Collegiate Church
St. Mary’s High Kirk
RECOLLECTION by Rev Clifford Hughes
PATRICK MAITLAND, 17th EARL OF LAUDERDALE (Obituary, 9 December), is complete without reference to the Haddington Pilgrimage. Patrick's deeply held Anglo-Catholic - convictions found expression in his commitment to the Marian Shrine, at Walsingham, from 1955. When the Lauderdale Aisle in St Mary's Parish Church, Haddington, East Lothian, was restored in the late 1970s, it was consecrated by the then Episcopal Bishop of Edinburgh, Alistair Haggart, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the Christ Child, and the Three Kings, creating an intriguing ecclesiastical anomaly, an Episcopal chapel within a Presbyterian church. Patrick sought to attract pilgrims to what he called "the shrine of our Lady of Haddington".
The first pilgrimage in 1970 attracted 13 pilgrims. By-the turn of the century this annual festival, on the second Saturday in May, would bring to St Mary's more than 1,000 pilgrims: Catholics, Episcopalians, Anglicans (for there were busloads from south of the Border ),Presbyterians and others.
In the early years, pilgrims would walk, jog, cycle or motor the ten miles or so from St Mary's Whitekirk to the wonderfully restored medieval
Over the years, praise bands and liturgical dance were innovations featured in this ecumenical gathering, and although it proved impossible to find a liturgy which would bring Catholics and non-Catholics to the same table/altar, the inspirational climax of every pilgrimage was prayer for healing during the afternoon's Episcopal/ Presbyterian Eucharist. Clergy of all denominations moved through the church to pray for anyone whose hand was raised.
I worked with Patrick as minister of St Mary's from 1993-2001 and can attest to one miraculous healing - my own. When I was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer, Pastor Jack promised to pray for me; Archbishop Keith Patrick, now Cardinal O'Brien, sent out a plea in a diocesan letter to elicit prayer for me. A rainbow coalition of prayer, indeed! My wonderful new voice is my testimony.
In the year which has seen the death of Elizabeth, Duchess of Hamilton, who played such a significant part in the restoration of St Mary's, and of Patrick, Earl of Lauderdale, it is sad that the pilgrimage, too, has run its course. But the Haddington Prayer lives on.