St. Margaret has been associated with pilgrimage, indeed, she was instrumental in her time in helping pilgrims heading to St. Andrew’s by implementing not only the Queens ferry crossing but establishing a network of support for the pilgrims across Fife.
A pilgrimage is a journey where a person can take time to reflect on current life and draw inspiration from the life of the saints and the message of Christ.
To go on pilgrimage really means to step out of ourselves in order to encounter God where he has revealed himself, where his grace has shone with particular splendour and produced rich fruits of conversion and holiness among those who believe - Pope Benedict XVI
Official Pilgrimages, in St. Margaret’s honour, to Dunfermline started following her Translation to the new shrine on 19th June 1250 but stopped during the reformation in 1560 when the Relics of St. Margaret and King Malcolm were smuggled to Spain for safety before the desecration of Dunfermline Abbey.
The 1970’s saw a new beginning with a televised service in 1967 and the volume of visiting pilgrims meaning the Mass had to be held in the local football ground until 1974 when the pilgrimage was transferred to the National Marion Shrine at Carfin.
St. Margaret’s Pilgrimage recommenced in 2015 at the request of Archbishop Cushley after a hiatus of 41 years. Previously the pilgrimages were held within East End Park, the home of Dunfermline Athletic Football club. It was not possible to utilise the football ground on recommencing the pilgrimage and a different format was put in place.
In 2015, the organising group put in place guided tours of the relevant sites within Dunfermline town centre relating to St. Margaret for visiting pilgrims, prior to a procession from the Louise Carnegie Gates at Pittencrieff Park to St. Margaret’s Memorial Church where Archbishop Cushley led a celebration mass. The mass was transmitted live on the internet for those who could not attend as well as to the church crypt and Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline which were both used to accommodate the overflow of pilgrims that could not be seated within the church.
The Pilgrimage continued in this format for the following four years as an annual event until it was required to be cancelled due to the COVID pandemic restrictions.
The St. Margaret’s Pilgrimage returned on Sunday 18th June 2023 after a hiatus of 3 years due to COVID restrictions. Changes were made to the format this year with the procession being replaced with an Ecumenical and prayer service at Dunfermline Abbey prior to the thanksgiving Mass at St. Margaret’s Memorial Church. Archbishop Cushley was the lead celebrant at the services.
Archbishop Cushley’s homily from the Mass can be read here.
Please see our latest news article here for more details of the 2023 pilgrimage.