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Aberdeen's ongoing links with Carmelites and Our Lady
12 July 2012

Earlier this week, on 9th July, the Catholic Church across Scotland observed the feast of Our Lady of Aberdeen. The city of Aberdeen in north-east Scotland has a long and ongoing association with the Carmelite Order.

Established as a royal city by King David I of Scotland (1124-53), Aberdeen has grown to be Scotland's third most populous city with some 220,000 inhabitants.

Aberdeen's grey stone buildings have earned it the nickname of 'The Granite City'.
Since the discovery of North Sea oil in the 1970s,
it has also been nicknamed 'Oil Capital of Europe'.

The Carmelites first came to Aberdeen in the early 1270s to found Scotland's third community of the Order. The University of Aberdeen was founded in 1495 and Carmelites are known to have studied and taught there until the city's friary was suppressed in 1560 as part of the Scottish Reformation. The friary site is now part of The Carmelite Hotel.

Aberdeen University.

Carmelite Hotel, Aberdeen.

Also exiled from Aberdeen during the Reformation was a medieval Gothic statue of Our Lady and Child, taken to safety in the Low Countries, where it is still revered in Brussels as 'Our Lady of Good Success'. Since the restoration of the Scottish Hierarchy in 1878, devotion to Our Lady of Aberdeen has spread across the city and beyond, thanks to various copies of the original statue which are now in churches across the Diocese.

The statue of Our lady of Aberdeen (Notre Dame du Bon Succès)
at the Church of Notre Dame du Finistère in Brussels.

Carmelite historian Fr. Richard Copsey has researched extensively the history of the Order in Aberdeen and elsewhere and took good advantage of his time as Catholic Chaplain at Aberdeen University to deepen our knowledge of the Order's presence in Scotland.

Further information
  • For more information about the devotion to Our Lady of Aberdeen, please visit the websites of Aberdeen Cathedral and Diocese.