Friday, 24 October 2008

Our Patron: Blessed Pius IX

On our journey north one of our items of discussion was "who should our patron be?" Naturally we turned first of all to St Christopher, patron of travellers. Then we thought of great railway saints such as St Rollox, St Pancras or St Enoch. These would all be worthy patrons but as we had all studied in the Scots College Rome our minds finally turned to Blessed Pius IX (above, in his Papal Train). It was he who allowed the building of the first railway in the Papal States. His predecessor, Pope Gregory XVI, had reportedly defined railways as "roads of Hell" but Bl Pius IX saw the benefits of the railway and in 1856 the line from Rome to Frascati opened with the train and track being first blessed by a bishop.  


We had our inaugural meeting on a visit to the Strathspey Steam Railway at Aviemore. 

We left Glasgow Queen Street on the 0841 to Aberdeen, changing at Perth for the 0955 to Inverness (ex Edinburgh at 0837), which got us to Aviemore at 1118. An Open Return is £47.90 but by purchasing Advance Single tickets we got there and back for £20 return. Whilst we obviously had tickets, a friendly employee at Queen Street opened the barrier and escorted us to the train rather than having to try and work the automatic ticket gates. This helpful attitude was a great start to our expedition. 

Our journey up and down was by Class 170, but the object of our journey was, of course the steam train at Aviemore. When we arrived at Aviemore we had an hour to pass before our train was due to leave but waiting in the steam platform was not the branch train for us but a Class 47 hauling the Royal Scotsman. Whilst dreaming of travelling in such luxury, we wandered off and found a cafe for a bacon roll for breakfast. 

At 1230 our train, hauled by a "BR black" Saddle Tank and made up of Mk1 stock, left Aviemore for Broomhill, with us aboard. Although it was a Wednesday in October the train was quite busy with families; not all of whom enjoyed it as much as us - "Why are we going so slow?" "A real train would be quicker!" was the refrain of a child sitting behind us. We though enjoyed the trip, especially watching the engine take on water at Boat of Garten. We also sanctified the trip by celebrating the Little Hour of Sext, having celebrated Lauds on the way up from Glasgow and celebrating Vespers on the way back down. 

After returning to Aviemore we saw some of the sights, visited the Catholic Church, which was closed but which had a nice statue of Our Lady of Perpetual Succuor in the grounds, and had dinner in a nice chippy - the "Happy Haggis". This eatery had a great view of the mainline railway and whilst dining we saw a short train (perhaps dealing with the autumn leaf-fall) with doubled headed 66's on the front and a third 66 on the rear.    

Scottish Clergy Railway Circle

The Church recommends that priests find time for common social activities and encourages them to socialise in a wholesome way as priests, a "a decisive support in difficulties and a valuable help in the growth of pastoral charity" (Directory on the Life and Ministry of Priests, 28). 

Priests need to find support in pastoral issues and spiritual ones from each other. They also need to be comfortable in social support: some exercise this through sports such as golf or football; others through a variety of social activities. 

A glaring ommission in Scotland so far though is a group for clerical railway enthusiasts. 

This ommission has now been recitified: Welcome to the -

Scottish Clergy Railway Circle

Here we will post information on our upcoming activities and record of what has been done alreday.