Mass for vanished Scottish Monk

A Requiem Mass for an elderly monk was held at Northern Scotland's Pluscarden Abbey last week to mark the first anniversary of his mysterious disappearance.

The Universe reports that Fr Maurus Deegan, 93, vanished during one of his regular daily walks around the monastery where he had lived for 57 years.

Searchers scoured the area for the grey-bearded, bespectacled Benedictine monk. Despite the massive search, no body or trace of the elderly priest have ever been found.

Pluscarden is the only medieval monastery in Britain still inhabited by monks and being used for its original purpose. Founded in 1230 by King Alexander II of Scotland, its site in a sheltered, south-facing glen against a background of forested hillside.

Fr Deegan had left on a clear afternoon in his monk's habit and slip-on shoes and was last seen walking along a country road about a mile from the abbey.

Despite being deaf and having poor eyesight, he was a keen walker and often went out for several hours at a time. Although fit for his age, he was known to become easily confused.

He was familiar with the roads and woodland tracks in the Pluscarden area but it was feared that he may have become disorientated and fallen.

The search of the sprawling woodland around the abbey was hampered by the dense foliage on the trees and the deep undergrowth.

Originally from Liverpool, he was the last survivor of the five Benedictine monks who recolonised the long-abandoned Pluscarden Abbey in 1948.

It had lain in ruins since the end of the 16th century before he and four fellow monks from Prinknash Abbey in Gloucestershire re-established the community.

The head of the community, Abbot Hugh Gilbert, said the disappearance remained a mystery. "We still live in the hope that he will be found after all this time," he said.

A renewed public appeal has been launched.

Mass Said for Vanished Monk (The Universe 16/5/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Pluscarden Abbey

17 May 2006