Orkney – services in St Magnus Cathedral and the Italian Chapel

You can find plenty of blogs about the gorgeous St Magnus Cathedral if you look back through this Blog (four detailed blogs in 2017 – use the search bar to the right and look for “Kirkwall”)- and a 2017 blog about the Italian Chapel here. Last year I blogged the two together. This year here is a short note to say we had the pleasure of worshipping in them both.

On Friday 1 July we met some friends in Kirkwall. They had sent me a whatsapp message to say “hello” and a note they were in Orkney – so we had coffee. Afterwards we walked to the Cathedral and found it was very busy. Many of the visitors were members of the University of Glasgow Chapel Choir. We had just missed a Taize service, but they are singing Evensong at 1830. We went to the Cathedral centre, watched their film and had a tea, then Idid the Bishop’s Palace, we slowly ambled the main street, ambled back, had a gorgeous very late lunch at Judith Glue, then went to the wonderful Orkney Library. Not only do Orkney Islands Council have public loos to be proud of, they also have this superb library service. In England we got rid of public services like this.

When the library shut we had another amble, and then went up to the Cathedral. It was a beautiful service – Norwegian hymn arranged by Grete Pedersen “Down in the west, the sun is setting” to start with, Charterhouse responses (Jamal Sutton) I didn’t know, Brewer in E flat – not a setting I know – and the haunting “Then I saw a new heaven” by Bainton. The soul was duly lifted.

On Sunday 3 July there is a Mass at the Italian Chapel at 3 pm. I put my ecumenical hat on – we got a nice welcome. Father Colin Davis is based in Thurso, he covers Wick, north Caithness and the whole of Orkney (no resident priest on these islands). Today was the 15th anniversary of his ordination – and the 28th anniversary of mine (you know you are old when Catholic priests look young!). A pleasure to be there.

Orkney is a wonderful place.

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4 Responses to Orkney – services in St Magnus Cathedral and the Italian Chapel

  1. Janet McKee says:

    Yes, Orkney is very special.

  2. Heather Farquharson says:

    Thank you for this very evocative series of blogs. We know many of the places you mention, my husband being a native of Aberdeenshire. I have two particular memories which came back as I read your words. The first is a memory of taking my week old son up the tower of the ruins of Elgin Cathedral, snuggled in his kangaroo pouch. We were living in Forres at the time, but enjoyed going through to Elgin. Sorry it seems to have declined over the years, from what you say. It was forty years ago that we knew it.

    The other memory is of two holidays in Orkney with, by then, two sons. The first visit when everything was fresh and wonderful to our eyes, was at a time when it was still possible to wander through the remains at Skara Brae without let or hindrance. How I admire the people of those distant times with their tough resourcefulness and imagination. I like to think of them dying and waking up in heaven and saying “So this is what we were looking for all the time.” A flight of fantasy, but it is Christmas after all so, as I said in another comment, God bless us all, every one. Happy Christmas to you and Julie.

  3. David says:

    It certainly is, Peter. We visited both the Cathedral and the Italian Chapel after staying with some friends on one of the outlying islands.

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