Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”


At this joyful time when the monks of Pluscarden Abbey celebrate the election of their new Abbot, Father Alselm Atkinson, to whom we extend out most sincere good wishes and prayers, and as the Church in Scotland celebrates the consecration and installation on the Feast of the Assumption of Abbot Hugh Gilbert, O.S.B., until now Abbot of Pluscarden, as the fifty-first and eleventh bishop of Aberdeen on 15th August 2011, it seems a good moment to air a short piece of historical footage, the consecration of Pluscarden Abbey on the 8th September, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, (Victory Day to the Order) in 1958.

The abbey, a ruin for 500 years, had been bought and given to the Benedictine Order by Lord Colum Crichton-Stuart, a noted Scottish Catholic layman, son of the 3rd Marquess of Bute, and therefore a cousin of our beloved and late Grand Prior, Fra' Fredrik Crichton-Stuart. The community was founded by Benedictine monks from Prinknash Abbey.

Fra' Freddy had a great and long-standing love of Pluscarden (he joined the Order of Malta when the restored Abbey was only five years old!) and made the great majority of his retreats there. Abbot Gilbert attended his funeral in Edinburgh.

Lovers of the Sacred Liturgy will be entranced by the simple beauty of the monastic vestments, and the grace and ease which attend these complex ceremonies, despite the fact that they were being undertaken in the setting of a ruin, and by people who had come together for the first time form many disparate places. Therein lies both the wonder and the benefit of our Catholic tradition. What we see here represents, in a way, Fra' Freddy's liturgical ideal, an unmannered and masculine religion; it shows the tradition from which he came, and the direction in which he had wished to lead the spiritual life of his Grand Priory.

We are indebted to Mr Martin Gardner, of A Wandering Oblate blog, for uploading this footage, and to the Abbot and community of Pluscarden for permitting it to be copied from their archive.