A HISTORIC PILGRIMAGE over the path taken by monks nearly 800 years ago between France and Moray is to be re-enacted.
Pluscarden Abbey was founded around the year 1230 when Valliscaulian monks from Burgandy went on a pilgrimage that saw them eventually arrive in Moray.
Now, as part of a campaign to raise the £5million required to rebuild the iconic South Range at the Moray site, plans are being laid to retrace the steps of those monks in the summer of 2017.
A spokesman for Pluscarden Abbey explained: “The idea is the brainchild of retired Gordon Highlander, Lt Col David Broadfoot MBE, who has been tasked with raising the required money for this daunting task.
“The draft route, produced following a meeting in Rome between David and Professor Philip Adamo, author of ‘New monks in old habits’, an expert on the Valliscaulians, will be fleshed out if the uptake reaches its required target by March 31.
“This will be achieved by the appointment of two full time staff, a Pilgrimage Director and a Pilgrimage Operations manager.”
The Abbey as it stands today owes its foundation to King Alexander II of Scotland in 1230 – around the same time grants were made to two other sister house at Beauly in Ross and Ardchattan in Argyll.
The community that served these churches was one of Valliscaulians, a little-known order that shared some of the strictness of the Carthusian discipline with the spirit of fellowship that existed among the Benedictines, and only at these three places was this order represented in Scotland or England.
The parent house in France, the Priory of Vallis Caulium, had been founded just over thirty years earlier and the original brethren from France must surely have found in Pluscarden, an echo of their own situation, lying in a deeply wooded valley in Burgundy, nestling at the foot of a steep and densely forested hill.
In fact, an old name for the Pluscarden valley, the Kail Glen, is nothing more than a translation into Scots of the French Val des Choux or the Latin Vallis Caulium”
The spokesman said: “The pilgrimage of those early Valliscaulian Monks from Burgundy to Pluscarden will be repeated from June 5 to September 3, 2017.
“It will cover a distance of approximately 1300 miles and will be broken down into 12 legs of 100 miles and a final leg of 80 miles. Each leg other than the last one will have a ceiling of 40 participants, will take six days (resting on Sunday’s), worship and changeover of participants and sponsors.
“The final leg will have 60 participants and will cover 80 miles over 5 days arriving on the Friday, and leading to a final weekend of worship and celebration.
“Each participant, on each leg, must achieve a minimum sponsorship of £1230 – the money raised will go towards the £5 million required to complete the Pluscarden Abbey South Range Project.
“A stone from the original abbey will be carried throughout the pilgrimage and will constitute the foundation stone of the new South Range.”
Details of the South Range Project, the Pluscarden 1230 Pilgrimage, including details of all 13 legs and how to apply for this unique event are at www.appealpluscardenabbey.org.uk