Last-ditch plan to save St Mary’s, Blairs

A plan is being prepared to turn the historic chapel of St. Mary’s Blairs, one of the most beautiful in Scotland, into a cultural and heritage centre.

The final parish Mass at Blairs took place while many former seminarians gathered to say goodbye at the last Mass of the Friends of Blairs Association the week before.

Aberdeen Diocese announced in June that the parish church was to close. The Blairs College seminary closed in 1986.

Bishop Hugh Gilbert, the Bishop of Aberdeen and Chair of the Blairs College Chapel Trust, said ‘The increasing difficulty of meeting the regular running costs of St. Mary’s Chapel, Blairs, as well as recent identification of further significant problems within the fabric of the Chapel, has caused the Blairs College Chapel Trust to give careful consideration to the long-term viability of the building.’

Now however some former Blairs College students hope the historic Blairs College church could be saved.

A spokesperson for the group said ‘It’s very early days but we are looking at how the chapel might be turned into a cultural and heritage centre where, for example, concerts could be held as well as Mass being celebrated occasionally.

It’s such a beautiful and historic building and an iconic symbol of the way the church survived the Reformation here in the North-East that it would truly be a tragedy if it couldn’t be saved.’ The Scottish Catholic understands the Diocese of Aberdeen would be interested in any reasonable and costed proposal to take over St. Mary’s.

David McCann, Chair of the Friends of Blairs Association and one of the organisers of their farewell Mass viewed the occasion, while sad, as a living example of the incredible history of Blairs and ‘a wonderful day… A tremendous spirit permeated the gathering and the Mass,’ he said.

‘Our most mature attender was in College in the 1940s, the youngsters in the 1980s.’

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