Moderator to follow in the footsteps of Celtic saints this Holy Week
Published on 29 March 2021
This Holy Week Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, will embark on a 90-mile pilgrimage around his local authority area of Angus.
Starting on Monday 29 March, the walk will include some sites which have been used in Christian worship for more than 1,000 years.
Dr Fair plans to provide updates on the Moderator's Facebook page as he goes, which will allow for people to join in with the journey.
He said: "Pilgrimage is something that Christians have done forever - for centuries.
"In uncertain times it's good to remember that we are part of a much longer, bigger story and it takes us along paths where Christians walked long before we showed up.
"Jesus says 'come follow me' and that by definition means to go somewhere. Walking symbolises that we are called to be pilgrims, to be disciples and by definition that means we are going somewhere - Jesus is always leading us, ahead of us and we follow.
The route will start and finish at Arbroath Abbey, which was first used as a place of worship in the 12th century, and each day Dr Fair will cover around 15 miles on foot.
"You begin to think 'I wonder what it has seen in 900 years'," he said.
"We think the last year has been all consuming, but what has happened in all those years? There's been wars, the Black Death and all kinds of things.
"When we go to ancient places we're reminded that we are part of a much bigger story, and that what we are enduring at the moment is a kind of passing phase but the long story is still there.
"On the first day I'll be going to Aberlemno, which has got standing stones of Celtic origins dating back to between 500AD and 800AD. It's this reminder that the story is long before we were here and that will continue after we are here."
For those who may feel unable to physically take part in a pilgrimage, Dr Fair is keen that they feel able to join via him.
"Some people might be at home thinking 'I can't do that kind of thing', but it it's about an inward journey too which why I'm doing it at Easter - so you can do a pilgrimage from your own front room.
"The early morning devotions at 8am in Holy Week, which will be on the Church of Scotland's online channels, will help people to do this.
"I'll be passing through a village called Eassie, there's a stone there which is considered to be one of the best preserved Pictish era standing stones anywhere with Christian symbols on it and it dates to the 600s.
"I'll also pass St Orland's stone, St Fergus' well - these are people who were bringing the Christian gospel to Scotland 1.400 years' ago."
Part of the appeal for Dr Fair will be the chance to spend time outdoors, when so much of the last year has been passed indoors and in front of computer screens.
"In very basic terms it's a very personal trip and a chance to spend a week experiencing and appreciating creation which will be a highlight.
"Many people have said that if you look at the Angus Glens they look like a handprint with five fingers, so that sense of enjoying the goodness of God's creation will be way up there in terms of what I'm looking forward to."
Dr Fair's itinerary
Arbroath Abbey to Brechin Cathedral.
Aberlemno to Forfar via Resteneth Priory.
Bagavies Loch to Glamis to Eassie.
The Minister's Walk from Glen Prosen to Glen Clova to Loch Brandy.
Loch Brandy to Tarfside, Glen Esk.
Dundee to Arbroath Abbey.