The Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Auchterarder
Auchterarder and district have a rich history of Christianity. Celtic and Roman missionaries preached throughout the area and have many churches still dedicated to saints of that time, e.g. St. Fillan, a 6th century missionary from Ireland. The Episcopal Church is dedicated to St. Kessog, another Celtic saint, while Dunblane is called after St Blane. In the 12th century, Gilbert, Earl of Strathearn, founded an Augustinian community , Inchaffray Abbey, near Madderty. In the town of Auchterarder there was a church dedicated to Our Lady on the site of the post-reformation parish church The of religious welfare of the community of St MacKessog , Hunter Street, became the responsibility of this Augustinian community , as did the neighbouring communities in places like Aberuthven and Dunning.
Before the Reformation, there was only the Catholic Church in Scotland –the main missionaries being St. Ninian in the 4th century and St Columba, with his monastery on the Island of Iona, in the 7th century. In the Middle Ages St Margaret, a Saxon princess who married Malcolm, King of the Scots, was very religious and she and her family brought the Church in Scotland to be in line with the religious developments on the continent. The ancient see of Dunkeld continued to exist and it became a suffragan of St Andrews in 1472 and then of Glasgow in 1492. Robert Crichton was the last pre-reformation Bishop of the diocese from 1550 and indeed the last in Scotland . He was deprived of his see in 1571 but was restored to it in 1584. With his death in 1585 the see of Dunkeld remained vacant until its restoration by Pope Leo X111 in 1878. A window in the present Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour commemorates this restoration and his postoic letter is called “ Ex supremo apice “ , 4th March, 1878After the Reformation, there is very little mention of a Catholic presence in the area until the beginning of the 19th century when Irish emigrants began to come to Scotland as the industrial revolution got under way in Britain and the Irish famine struck in the middle of that century.
The Scottish hierarchy was restored in 1878—later than the English hierarchy, which was restored in 1850. By 1868 there were sufficient numbers of Catholics in Auchterarder for a room to be rented for the celebration of Mass. The priest from Crieff would come every second Sunday to offer Mass and attend to the Sunday school for children.
In 1875 Fr. Andrew Barret, based in Crieff, acquired a site for the building of a church in Auchterarder and began raising the necessary funds. Helped by Irish workers on the railways, the new church was opened in November , 1879, by Bishop George Rigg, the first bishop of the Diocese of Dunkeld after the restoration of the hierarchy in 1878. The church continued to be served by the priest in Crieff . During the years of the second world war the church was used as a billet for Polish soldiers, leaving the congregation without a place of worship.. The Parish Church ( the Barony ) kindly gave the use of their hall for the celebration of Mass. For a period during the war the present Coop building was also used for Mass. In 1945 the church was restored to the parish and was refurbished by parishioners. Consequently, the church was restored to full use
Later, in 1956, funding was provided by J.J. Calder of the brewing family for the building of the parish house for a resident priest, and a priest continued to reside there until 1994, when the parish was served by the priest in Dunblane, which continues to be the case up to the present.
The information in this article is based on a booklet composed by the late Mrs Margaret Butterly of Castleton Road, Auchterarder.