Join us in Dunfermline for the St Margaret Pilgrimage on 23 June

Join hundreds of people in Dunfermline this summer for the annual St Margaret Pilgrimage.

It takes place on Sunday 23 June and sees the return of the popular procession through the city centre led by Archbishop Leo Cushley.

He said: "St Margaret's influence and legacy is extraordinary and much of her work was done in the historic capital of Dunfermline.

"Her virtue and holiness helped transform not just her own family but the life of the nation for the next thousand years.

"So I invite you to join us as a pilgrim on Sunday 23 June as we process with her holy relic up through the High Street to St Margaret's Memorial Church where we will celebrate Holy Mass in her honour."

The procession will gather at the Louise Carnegie on Bridge Street (opposite the Seven Kings Pub) at 2:00pm.

Earlier in the day there will be an outdoor prayer service at the tomb of St Margaret at the historic Dunfermline Abbey, led by Archbishop Cushley (12:30pm).

Why not spend the day in Dunfermline and take advantage of what the historic city has to offer? You can enjoy a wander around Abbot House and its gardens, visit Andrews Carnegie's Birthplace Museum and enjoy the beauty of Pittencrieff Park (known locally as 'The Glen'). See dunfermline.com

We recommend that pilgrims visit St Margaret's Cave, and descend the atmospheric 87 steps where St Margaret prayed over 900 years ago.

Schedule

History

The roots of the summer pilgrimage date back to June 1250 when the relics of Saint Margaret were translated to a new shrine in Dunfermline Abbey following her canonisation by Pope Innocent IV.

A pilgrimage to Dunfermline soon emerged and continued until the late 16th Century. It was then resurrected in 1899 and continued again until 1974.

Archbishop Cushley revived it in 2015 and it has continued since then, except a hiatus due to the pandemic.

St Margaret's Pilgrimage

The annual St Margaret's Pilgrimage is on Sunday 23 June in Dunfermline and culminates with Mass at St Margaret's Church and a blessing with the relic of the saint.

Save the Date! Details to follow soon.

Pro-Life Mass

The Knights of St Columba will host a Mass to celebrate the value of human life from conception to natural death, to pray for an end to abortion and to support life-affirming choices.

Everyone is welcome at St Margaret’s Church, East Port, Dunfermline, on Saturday 7  October at 12 noon. Mass will be said by Fr Paul Lee, Provincial Chaplain to the Knights of St Columba Province 3 and parish priest at St Agatha's in Methil. The speaker will be Paul Atkin, from the Archdiocesan Pro-Life Office.

The Knights of St Columba is an Order of Catholic men bound together in Charity, Unity and Fraternity in order to enrich their own faith, spirituality and by words and actions, to proclaim the spiritual, moral and social message of the Catholic Church.  Find out more about their work at https://ksc.org.uk/

HOMILY: St Margaret's Pilgrimage in Dunfermline

Hundreds gathered in Dunfermline yesterday (Sunday 18 June) for the St Margaret's Pilgrimage.

The day started with an ecumenical service at Dunfermline Abbey before Holy Mass at St Margaret's Memorial Church in Dunfermline.

To see a photo gallery of the day, click here.

Homily of Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh
St Margaret’s Pilgrimage, 18 June 2023, Dunfermline

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

It is a very great joy to welcome you again to Dunfermline for our Pilgrimage in honour of our great queen, St Margaret.

I’m grateful to Fr Syriac and the people of St Margaret’s parish, including Colin and Amanda, the musicians and singers, the helpers and volunteers, and everyone in Dunfermline for their warm welcome to the town.

I’d like to thank the Reverend Mary Ann Rennie, Minister of Dunfermline Abbey, and her parishioners for their kind welcome this morning to the abbey, where we celebrated an ecumenical service in honour of St Margaret (above).

***

On the 16th of November last year, 2022, the official Feast as you know of St Margaret, many of us were at Dunfermline Abbey to remember the arrival 950 years ago of the first Benedictine monks at Dunfermline, who came to found a priory.

On that happy occasion, in the presence of HRH the Princess Royal, there was also the signing of a Declaration of Friendship, named in honour of St Margaret, and signed by Princess Anne, the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, and myself on behalf of the Catholic Church in Scotland.

The Declaration is an endeavour to recognize and build upon the great progress that has been achieved in the last sixty years, recognizing each other as friends and as brothers and sisters in Christ, in praying and working together for the good of our churches, and in working shoulder to shoulder for the common good of everyone who calls Scotland their home.

The document had originally been described as a declaration of friendship, but I’m happy to say that, in answer to the suggestion of Dr Grant Barclay, a minister of the Church of Scotland, the document is now called the Saint Margaret Declaration.

Nevertheless, the original intention – that it be a declaration of friendship – still stands.

This is partly because an important part of the document is an attempt to recognize together all that we hold in common.

Both Pope St John Paul II and the late Pope Benedict are on record as saying that we have more in common with the churches of the Reformation than that which divides us from them.

I heard these words said in London in 2010, and I have reflected on them ever since.

So, about three years ago, I approached the then Moderator, Lord Jim Wallace, and the senior leadership in the Church of Scotland of the time, and they were very willing to discuss what such a declaration of might look like.

I received the blessing of our own bishops to carry out this dialogue, and within about a year, the draft document was ready.

It was warmly welcomed by our bishops and it was also warmly welcomed at the General Assembly of Scotland in the summer of 2022.

One of the main foundations for it is a common will to preserve and promote and treasure our Christian heritage in this country, which goes back all the way to at least Saint Ninian in the far off fourth century, A.D. The declaration mentions St Ninian, St Columba of Iona, and St Margaret by name.

With our brothers and sisters in the Church of Scotland and the Episcopal Church, we have a shared admiration of who she was and what she did for our country, and that is not nothing.

Something of our common understanding of who she is, and that we share with her brothers and sisters of the Reformation churches, can be seen in our three readings today.

In the first reading from the Book of Proverbs, we see the picture of an ideal wife and mother.

Too often these days we find that kind of idea undermined, or knocked or belittled by people who think that being a wife, and being a mother, is something that is either far too difficult on the one hand, all the way through to being something outmoded or unnecessary in a modern and flexible society.

Margaret, however, is a strong and enduring example of someone who shows not only how well it can work, but how it can be the central nucleus in a full and fulfilling Christian life, and we can see in her biography, written by her Confessor just after she died, that she was flesh and blood too, a real wife and mother.

She was no plaster icon on a pillar; she was real, a flesh and blood saint.

In the second reading, we see the second great component of the character of Saint Margaret.

Through St Paul’s description of the higher gifts, we can see that how it all applies to Margaret, who also was “ambitious for the higher gifts”. She was deeply motivated by her love of Jesus Christ.

As Paul says, love is the best and highest element in our Christian discipleship.

Paul praises faith, hope, and love and compares them - but he declares boldly that the greatest of these great gifts is love; and Saint Margaret is a clear and vivid example of a consistent, hard-working, energetic love, through her personal attachment to people, especially the poor.

And the third component of her character that we see today comes from the Gospel of Matthew.

There our Lord says, if you listen to my words, and you act on them, you will be someone who built their house on rock.  Rain fell, floods came, the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, it was built on rock.

This is a parable that St Margaret took to heart.

There are many pictures of Saint Margaret.  Sometimes she is seen with a crucifix, because she called of one near the end of her life.

Sometimes she’s seen with a Book of the Gospels, because we know she carried one with her always, and it still exists to this day, and is kept in the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

But there is a third kind of image of her, including one in my own chapel in Edinburgh, where is Saint Margaret stands with a crown on her head and with a building cradled in her arms.

When we imagine her cradling a building in her arms, this is one image that has always made sense to me, that I add to the others.

To see her imagined carrying a building in her arms suggests Margaret as a builder; and not just a builder, but as a founder of churches. Now, Margaret didn’t found the Church in Scotland, its presence predates her arrival here by a good 600 years.

That being said, what she did do was to help “re-found” or re-imagine, or re-invigorate the Church here.  She renewed it. She refreshed it, and she did so with great energy.

She was also clearing a path, as it were, for some things that she didn’t even live to see, but that were important and a direct consequence of what she did in her lifetime.

Her sons, starting with King Saint David I of Scotland, were in an excellent position after her death to invite many European monastic communities that were blossoming everywhere in Western Europe to come also to Scotland, and much of their presence and their heritage can still be seen today, particularly in the border country in our own Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh.

Many foundations, priories and parishes and other foundations were the consequence of the work that Margaret did for the strengthening of the faith in our land.

Margaret worked with energy and love for her family, her country, and her church.  She had the humility and patience to prepare the way for others to complete the tasks begun by her.

And she did it with great heart, with great love.  As we venerate her memory and her relics here, we pray again today for our families, our nation, our leaders, and our church.

May St Margaret’s example and prayers strengthen us in God’s service today and always.

Thank you for joining us today, and God bless you!

GALLERY: St Margaret's Pilgrimage in Dunfermline

Hundreds gathered in Dunfermline yesterday (Sunday 18 June) for the St Margaret's Pilgrimage.

The day started with an ecumenical service at Dunfermline Abbey before Holy Mass at St Margaret's Memorial Church in Dunfermline. Read Archbishop Cushley's Homily here.

Gallery

A member of the Knights of St Columba venerates the relic of St Margaret.
Archbishop Cushley and Fr Francisco Liporace IVE nad Fr Simon Willis IVE, with some of the Pilgrims who walked to the Church from Lochgelly!
Archbishop Cushley with members of the Knights of St Columba.
Pilgrims chat with Archbishop Cushley after Mass.
Archbishop Cushley and members of the Order of Malta.
A religious sister visiting from Leeds with a local family.
Members of The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
Local primary and high school pupils with Archbishop Cushley after Mass.
Archbishop Cushley with a teacher and pupils from Holy Name Primary in Oakley.
Mass at St Margaret's Church.
Prayers at the Shrine of St Margaret at Dunfermline Abbey.
Fife Provost Jim Leishman MBE (foreground) attended the ecumenical service at Dunfermline Abbey.
Knights of the Order of Malta at the Ecumenical Service at Dunfermline Abbey.
Ecumenical Service at Dunfermline Abbey.
Ecumenical Service at Dunfermline Abbey.
Ecumenical Service at Dunfermline Abbey.
Prayers at the Shrine of St Margaret at Dunfermline Abbey.
Archbishop Cushley lays flowers at the Shrine of St Margaret at Dunfermline Abbey.
Fr Syriac Palakudiyil chats with a pilgrim after the Ecumenical Service at Dunfermline Abbey.
Fr Emmanuel Francis of St Margaret's in South Queensferry after the Ecumenical Service at Dunfermline Abbey.
Members of the Knights of St Columba with the relic of St Margaret at her shrine at Dunfermline Abbey.
Archbishop Cushley chats after the Ecumenical Service at Dunfermline Abbey.
Holy Mass at St Margaret's Church.
Holy Mass at St Margaret's Church.
Holy Mass at St Margaret's Church.
Fr Paul Lee reads the Gospel during Holy Mass at St Margaret's Church.
Holy Mass at St Margaret's Church and the Relic of St Margaret.
Holy Mass at St Margaret's Church.
From left: Fr Isaac Oshomah (Our Lady Immaculate & St Margaret in Duns); Fr Joshua Kauras (The Most Holy Trinity - Dunfermline/ Inverkeithing/Rosyth); Fr Gerard Hatton (St Teresa of Lisieux in Craigmillar); Fr Paul Lee (St Agatha, Methil); Fr Syriac Palakudiyil (St Margaret's in Dunfermline).
Holy Mass at St Margaret's Church.
From front: Fr Emmanuel Francis (St Margaret's in South Queensferry); Fr Francisco Liporace IVE and Fr Simon Willis IVE (The Holy Family in Cowdenbeath); Fr Daniel Doherty (St Francis Xavier's in Falkirk).
Holy Mass at St Margaret's Church.
Dr László Kálmán, Consul General of Hungary in Edinburgh, chats with a Member of the Knights of Malta after Mass.
Members of The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
Holy Mass at St Margaret's Church.
Holy Mass at St Margaret's Church.

Join us for St Margaret's Pilgrimage in Dunfermline

The St Margaret's Pilgrimage 2023 will take place in Dunfermline on Sunday 18 June.

The day features:

Archbishop Cushley said: "The pilgrimage is a chance to give thanks to God for the wonderful example of St Margaret, whose life of faith, charity and leadership continues to inspire people today.

Holy Mass at St Margaret's Church in East Port will be at 2:30pm (image from 2019 pilgrimage).

"It's always special for us to gather together where she lived and did the works of piety that have become renowned across the centuries. I hope to see many of you in Dunfermline on Sunday 18 June for its return."

The pilgrimage has a rich history in Dunfermline and returns after a break of three years due to the Covid pandemic.

There will be an opportunity to receive a blessing with a first class relic of St Margaret after the Mass at St Margaret's in East Port.

Guests include the Provost of Fife Jim Leishman and The Right Rev Dr Rev Iain Greenshields, the current Moderator of the Church of Scotland who is minister at St Margaret's Church in Touch, Dunfemline.

Also attending is László Kálmán, the Consul General of Hungary and representatives of the Knights of St Columba, the Knights of Malta and St Margaret's Guild.

Pupils from Holy Name Primary (Oakley), St Margaret's Primary and St Columba's Secondary (both Dunfermline) will contribute to the Mass.

*Please note, there is no street procession this year.

Accessibility and Seating

The Mass is at 2:30pm, please be seated by 2:15pm. Wheelchair seating is at the back left of Church. Stewards will be in attendance to help.

Streaming

The Mass will be streamed from the church's website here.

Getting there

Car: There is a free car park in Leys Park Road near St Margaret's Church (see below map). The church car park is available only for dropping off those with mobility issues. Council car parks are free until 1pm on Sunday.

Train: Dunfermline Town Train Station is a five to ten minute walk from St Margaret's Church and Dunfermline Abbey.

Bus: Dunfermline Bus Station is a five to ten minute walk from St Margaret's Church and a five minute walk from Dunfermline Abbey.

Maps

St Margaret's Pilgrimage 2023

The St Margaret's Pilgrimage 2023 will take place in Dunfermline on Sunday 18 June.

The day features:

There will be an opportunity to receive a blessing with a first class relic of St Margaret after the Mass at St Margaret's in East Port.

Guests include the Provost of Fife Jim Leishman and The Right Rev Dr Rev Iain Greenshields, the current Moderator of the Church of Scotland who is minister at St Margaret's Church in Touch, Dunfemline.

Also attending is László Kálmán, the Consul General of Hungary and representatives of the Knights of St Columba, the Knights of Malta and St Margaret's Guild.

Pupils from Holy Name Primary (Oakley), St Margaret's Primary and St Columba's Secondary (both Dunfermline) will contribute to the Mass.

*Please note, there is no street procession this year.

Accessibility and Seating

The Mass is at 2:30pm, please be seated by 2:15pm. Wheelchair seating is at the back left of Church. Stewards will be in attendance to help.

Streaming

The Mass will be streamed from the church's website here.

Getting there

Car: There is a free car park in Leys Park Road near St Margaret's Church (see below map). The church car park is available only for dropping off those with mobility issues. Council car parks are free until 1pm on Sunday.

Train: Dunfermline Town Train Station is a five to ten minute walk from St Margaret's Church and Dunfermline Abbey.

Bus: Dunfermline Bus Station is a five to ten minute walk from St Margaret's Church and a five minute walk from Dunfermline Abbey.

Maps

St Margaret Declaration: We are brothers and sisters in Christ

Here is the homily of Archbishop Leo Cushley, delivered at a service in Dunfermline Abbey, to mark the official signing of the St Margaret Decalaration of Friendship between the Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church in Scotland.

***

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

First of all, let me thank the Reverend MaryAnn Rennie for her gracious invitation to address a few words to you on this happy occasion.

Today, we gather in the City of Dunfermline, first and foremost to remember St Margaret on her feast day.  In her, we honour a woman who is fairly well known to us thanks to her biographer, who was also her confessor.

Unlike, say Columba or Cuthbert, she doesn’t have the aura of a distant Celtic myth about her.  The picture we have of her is very real, somehow much more up to date.

We know just what she was like so, even at this distance, we can honour her goodness, her strength of character, her patience, her mercy, her determination, her sense of justice, her holiness.

And we come here today to learn from her, for our own sake, and for that of our Church and of our nation.  We hold her memory dear, and we pledge ourselves to work as she did for the peace and prosperity of our land.

Although she lived 950 years ago, Margaret’s positive and life-giving impact upon our country’s political, social and spiritual life can still be felt, to this day.

Power of goodness

This immediately teaches us several things: that the power of goodness and holiness must never be underestimated; that leadership is a call to service of others, not of self; that love and mercy really do last forever; and that one good person can make a difference.

The selfless, benign, beautiful example of St Margaret and her continuing influence upon us is a simple proof of all those things.

We continue to underestimate the power of goodness; we think it often looks weak and disarmed; but simple goodness can change people’s hearts, even if it’s something that is sometimes hidden from sight.  Goodness is its own reward, although it may not be a reward that is immediately seen or felt.

We casually lament the quality of leadership in our days. Compared to other times and places, though, there are many fine people who enter public life for the right reasons, and who genuinely succeed in serving their fellow citizens; but, too often, good ideals are made to give way to the democratic imperative to get elected first, and then compromises take the place of what is truly right and just and good.

Occasionally, however, one person makes a difference, one person in the right place and time changes the game.  Queen Margaret was such a person.

Providence sent her to Scotland and a transformation of our land started under her good and gentle guidance.  So, we honour her goodness, her strength of character, her patience, her mercy, her determination, her sense of justice, her holiness.

We honour her by imitating those virtues, and by praying the good Lord for a double share of her spirit for ourselves and for our whole land.

One of the things she and her sons set out to do was to connect, or to reconnect, old Christian Scotland with the rest of the continent, to drag it, as it were, into the 11th century. Poland had converted to Christianity in 966; Kievan Rus had done so in 988; St Stephen, the king of Hungary and St Margaret’s grandfather, had converted to Christianity in 1000 AD; and by 1070, the date we are remembering today, a great movement of social and religious reform was under way throughout Europe.

Embracing the faith

So, as Margaret grew up in the Hungarian court, she was influenced by the joy and enthusiasm of people newly embracing the faith.  But she was also an English Saxon Princess, and her father’s side came from people who had been Christian for centuries.

Most date the beginnings of Saxon Christianity to the arrival of St Augustine at Canterbury in 597.  Augustine had been sent from Italy to England by Pope Gregory the Great, and although Christianity was already thriving in Britain and Ireland, it was solidly reinforced by Augustine’s arrival.

Those of us who learn of these things will acknowledge that there is a lot more to the story than that, but that’s enough for now: I give you this simple version of the event, in order to imagine What if… What if Margaret wished to bring the monks from Canterbury here for the same reasons?

She was a Saxon, so were they; they had strong links to the continental church, so did they; like Margret, they might have felt distinctly uncomfortable at the arrival of the Normans in Kent; and there may also have been ties of kinship and affection, now lost to us, that would have made the request to them - by this Anglo-Saxon princess, now the Queen of Scots – a more attractive prospect.

In any case, they accepted the invitation, and the rest, as they say, is history. The silken threads that bind us together were bound then too, and they were quietly reinforced by blood, and friendship, and faith.

These were living links between real people, and the border between the Scots and the English was, once again, overstepped and softened by genuine ties of faith and kinship and affection.

And if we think this is all ancient history and far from us today, we need only look to the presence of Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal here with us, or to the monks of Pluscarden Abbey near Elgin, alive and well today, who trace their ancestry to the monks of this very priory.  In their different ways, they, like us, are a living link to the memory of what was founded here 950 years ago.

And as if that weren’t enough, we will shortly do something that will, I hope, help to build and consolidate those bonds I’ve just outlined.

The Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church in Scotland look to the pre-Reformation history of the Church here as a part of their shared heritage.  This is something that they, along with the Scottish Episcopal Church, have long acknowledged, but they have never done so together, or in public.

Christian heritage

The international ecumenical movement, widely acknowledged to have begun in Edinburgh in 1910, took many decades to have its impact, and it was only in the 1980s that the churches in Scotland, heirs to the Christian heritage here, started to talk to each other more seriously, to pray and to act in common.

And they started – as everyone in the ecumenical movement did – by looking at what divides these ancient institutions, and in their initial enthusiasm tried to work towards an institutional union like that seen before the 16th century.  And they found it difficult.  Very difficult.  And very tiring.

And yet, at the same time, others were starting to approach the matter from a different direction. In 2010, I sat in Westminster Abbey and listened to Pope Benedict say to the Archbishop of Canterbury, before an abbey full of Christian leaders from all over the UK, that we have more in common than that which divides us.  This bears repeating: we have more in common than that which divides us.

It was a sentiment I hoped was true, and perhaps worth exploring.  And I began to wonder, if it’s true – and it feels sort of true - what would it actually look like?  What if, instead of chasing down all the differences that have accrued over nearly five centuries, we were to write down what we have in common instead?

How would it be if we were to start from what we both hold dear, what we both treasure in our common heritage, and write that down instead?  It needn’t be an exhaustive list, it needn’t be complicated.  The only thing then to be sought would be the political will to go and look. Anyway, I returned to my work abroad, and put these thoughts to one side.

But then in 2013 I was sent back to Scotland, and to Edinburgh.  I returned as the Catholic Archbishop for this area, and I was invited to attend the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.  I’d never been before, and only knew vaguely what to expect. In terms of protocol and meetings and so on, it was fairly straightforward.

But something had changed while I had been away from Scotland (the previous twenty years), and the people attending the General Assembly let me see it.

The week before I was consecrated bishop, I was at St Andrews at a service and a minister walked up to me and said, “You’re the new archbishop, aren’t you?” She promptly gave me a big hug and then said, “I’m Lorna Hood, and I’m the Moderator of the General Assembly”.  Something had definitely changed while I was away… And at the following General Assemblies, I was made to feel ever more welcome.

Agreement

So, these last forty years have been ones characterised by sincere theological dialogue, and we have arrived occasionally at agreement.  We have also learned to pray together as brothers and sisters in Christ, especially in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity every January.

And our people in their parishes now work together here and there in various charitable projects.

Above all, however, through our contacts over these last decades, something else has grown up, perhaps unnoticed: many on both sides have learned to become friends.  And that, given our shared history, isn’t nothing.

We all know the history that we share.  It contains much for us to regret, and it would be naïve to pretend it all away; but it’s a further reason to do something about it.  Given our context, then, a friendship that is the unlooked-for consequence of the last 40 years is something to be noticed, to be welcomed, and to be built upon.

As I said at this year’s General Assembly, in the presence of my friend the Moderator Dr Iain Greenshields, here with us today, the Declaration is also a consciously new approach to ecumenism, an attempt to re-imagine the path towards Christian unity.

Instead of listing our problems and points of friction or grievance, old or new, the Declaration chooses to focus on what we have in common, and to underline that we treasure together, so much that is inspiring and ancient, profound and beautiful.

It suggests that we might one day reach effective unity by means of a growing affective unity.  That’s just a clever way of saying greater unity achieved – at least in part - through greater friendship.

I would like to mention just some of the names of those involved in drawing up the Declaration, including Moderators Lord Jim Wallace and Iain Greenshields, Principal Clerks Drs George Whyte and Fiona Smith, ecumenical officer Dr Iain McPake, Convener of the Ecumenical Relations Committee Reverend Sandy Horsburgh, and several others who helped to shape the Declaration into its final form.  It was a great pleasure to work with them to achieve today’s goal.

Of course, it’s not all over just yet: we will continue to discuss and deepen our understanding of important points of division over our heritage; but, meantime, more importantly, we believe, already, here and now, that where two or three of us are gathered together in the Lord’s name, He is there in our midst.

We are brothers and sisters in Christ.  We stand shoulder to shoulder before an unbelieving world.  And we wish to respect each other, to be a support to each other, and to do all we can, with patience and humility, to achieve the unity that the Lord prayed for.

And if St Margaret and the first men who came here nearly a thousand years ago were here with us now, I would like to think that they would welcome and approve of us setting out in this way, again, in friendship, to face the next thousand years, not as enemies or rivals, but as sisters and brothers - and friends in Jesus Christ.

Archbishop Leo Cushley, 16 November 2022.

Declaration of Friendship signed at Dunfermline Abbey

An historic declaration of friendship between the Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church in Scotland was signed at Dunfermline Abbey this afternoon.

The St Margaret Declaration was formally endorsed during a special service to celebrate the 950th anniversary of the building.

It was signed by Dr Iain Greenshields, Archbishop Leo Cushley and Princess Anne.

Her Royal Highness, the Princess Royal, was in attendance along with around 300 invited guests from the local community, ecumenical partners, civic society and heritage organisations.

Named after the 11th century Scottish Queen who is buried in the abbey, the St Margaret Declaration is the culmination of years of ecumenical relationship building between the two Churches which recognise each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

It was signed by ArchbishopLeo Cushley, who preached during the service, Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and Princess Anne.

Stand alongside each other

Archbishop Cushley said: "The declaration is a consciously new approach to ecumenism, an attempt to re-imagine the path towards Christian unity.

"Instead of listing our problems and points of friction or grievance, old or new, the Declaration chooses to focus on what we have in common and underline that we treasure together, so much that is inspiring and ancient, profound and beautiful.

"We stand shoulder to shoulder before an unbelieving world and we wish to respect each other, to be a support to each other, and to do all we can to achieve the unity that the Lord prayed for.

"And if St Margaret and the first men who came here nearly a thousand years ago were here with us now, I would like to think that they would welcome and approve of us setting out in this way.

"In friendship, to face the next thousand years, not as enemies or rivals, but as sisters and brothers and friends in Jesus Christ."

Friendship
Dr Greenshields said: "I am deeply honoured and privileged to be one of the signatories of the St Margaret's Declaration at Dunfermline Abbey in its 950th year and on St Margaret's Day.

"This new friendship agreement has been many years in the making and is aptly named after a Scottish Queen who was venerated for her missionary Christian faith and her kindness and generosity to poor people.

"The declaration reflects the steadfast desire of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Scotland and the Church of Scotland to continue to journey together and to see the healing of division within our nation.

"I would want people across Scottish society to look at this new relationship between the Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church and take away a powerful message – there is more that unites us than divides us as we strive to be an ever more united Christian voice in this land.

"May the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ be in us and between us, may the living hope of the Gospel inspire us and may the deep, enduring, inspiring, renewing and eternal love of God in Jesus sustain us."

Unity and cooperation
Written by senior figures from both Churches, the declaration describes the Churches' shared beliefs, ‘rooted in the Apostles, Christ's first disciples,' and acknowledges a common heritage as Christians in Scotland.

It also recognises the divisions of the past, apologises for the hurt and harm caused and seeks to make amends, asserting ‘we repent and ask forgiveness of one other.'

It is accepted that some divisions between the Churches remain challenging and more work is needed on reconciliation and healing.

Nevertheless, both Christian denominations say that what they hold in common is far greater than what divides them, and they commit to continue working towards greater unity.

Princess Anne, who served as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly in 2017, was invited to the service as the patron of St Margaret's Chapel Guild at Edinburgh Castle.

Addressing the congregation, she said: "We have been able to celebrate St Margaret today and I think her legacy has helped to bring us this declaration and I thank you all for that.

"Once again, my congratulations on this significant anniversary for the abbey and for the city of Dunfermline but also underlining the importance of what you have signed up today."

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth visited Dunfermline Abbey in 1972 to mark its 900th anniversary and King Charles and the Queen Consort were there last month.

The St Margaret Declaration can be read here. Main picture copyright Church of Scotland.

Event: Enjoy an advent concert by candlelight

The Schola Cantorum of St Mary's Cathedral is on tour this Advent!

The choir will perform three special concerts by candlelight, delivering beautiful festive choral music at the following churches:

  • FALKIRK St Francis Xavier's Church, Wednesday 7 December, 8pm.
  • KILSYTH St Patrick's Church, Saturday 10 December, 8pm.
  • DUNFERMLINE St Margaret's RC Church, Friday 16 December, 8pm.

Michael Ferguson, musical director of the Schola Cantorum, said: “These candlelit concerts will be peaceful and uplifting – an opportunity to escape the Christmas frenzy and enjoy some wonderful, atmospheric music from these special singers. All are welcome.”

Tickets: £5 standard or £10 family, available on the door or from Eventbrite https://bit.ly/3T7wRRY

 

The Schola Cantorum is unique in the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh, and is one of the few in the Catholic Church in Scotland existing principally to sing the repertoire of the historical treasury of sacred music to the highest possible standards in cathedral worship.

The ensemble not only embodies excellence in choral singing, but also a commitment to sharing the musical fruits of two millennia of Christian worship with the Catholic community and beyond.

The octet’s debut album, With Angels and Archangels, is out now.