Pluscarden Abbey opened its doors to more than 100 guests yesterday for the first rededication ceremony inside its holy walls for nearly 600 years.
The Roman Catholic Bishop of Aberdeen Hugh Gilbert, accompanied by Deacons, led the special service at the ancient abbey, which was reoccupied as a ruin in 1948 after being empty for centuries.
Monks, religious sisters and spiritual followers from as far afield as Germany and the United States were among the congregation for the special three-hour mass.
The significance of dedicating a building – making it holy – is to prepare it for religious things to happen inside.
Father Abbot Anselm opened yesterday’s mass, believed to be the third in the history of the monastery, with a welcome at 11am.
Bishop Gilbert, the former abbot of Pluscarden, then gave a homily before a prayer of dedication and the anointing of the altar and walls.
He said: “We are a people who need comfort. There can be great comfort in small things.
“It has been a comfort to many here to see the ruins rebuilt and living stones forming a living temple.
“When I came back here now, it is often the older generation of monks who were here when I first came who fill my mind.
“There initial ruins shall be rebuilt. They shall rise up the foundations of many generations. And, today, it is good to seal all this with the rededication of this church and alter.”
Pluscarden would initially have been consecrated once it was completed following its foundation in 1230.
A second dedication is believed to have occurred around 1454 after the abbey was re-built and made Bennedictine, following a devastating attack by Alexander Stewart, the Wolf of Badenoch, in 1390.
As the only current Benedictine monastery in Scotland, Pluscarden Abbey is home to 21 resident monks and attracts an estimated 10,000 visitors every year.