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Sacred Connections


The intriguing mystery of a stained glass window in Kilmore Church, Dervaig,
on the Scottish Isle of Mull

by Barry Dunford

In the small village of Dervaig, which translates from the gaelic as "little grove", on the Scottish western Isle of Mull, is to be found a church with an unusual architectural style and feature. The present Kilmore Church (Church of Mary) was built in 1905 on an earlier religious site. It was constructed with a peculiarly distinct round tower feature. The leading Scots architect responsible for building Kilmore Church was Peter MacGregor Chalmers (1859-1922) who had worked with the design of a number of churches throughout Scotland.


Kilmore Church, Dervaig, Isle of Mull
Copyright Barry Dunford

Inside Kilmore Church are to be found seven very striking stained glass windows, one of which in particular reveals a remarkable symbolism. This particular stained glass window appears to date from 1906, one year after the construction of the church itself, and was produced by Stephen Adam, a leading Scottish stained glass artist who died in 1910. Although it is not known for certain who commissioned the design for this extraordinary stained glass window, its remarkable symbolic representation can hardly have escaped the attention of Stephen Adam, the stained glass artist responsible, who nevertheless agreed to carry out this explosively symbolic portrayal.


Jesus and Mary Magdalen, Kilmore Church
Copyright Barry Dunford

This striking stained glass window shows a young man portrayed with the usual features attributed to Jesus (including the traditional Nazarite central parting of the hair) with a halo above his head, holding hands with a woman without a halo. The woman can clearly be seen to be portrayed pregnant with her girdle painted below her abdomen rather than around her waist. The key as to the identity of this woman is made plain by the gospel text which appears immediately below the pregnant woman. It reads: "Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her". This statement, made by Christ himself, which directly relates to Mary Magdalen, sometimes referred to as Mary of Bethany, can be found in the Gospel of Luke, ch.10, v.42. The complete relevant text from Luke, ch.10, v.38-42, reads as follows:

38. "Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
39. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.
40. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
41. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
42. But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."


Enlarged text from the above stained glass window portraying Jesus and Mary Magdalen
Copyright Barry Dunford

It is clear from the inclusion of this highly pertinent Gospel text that the couple holding hands in this enigmatic stained glass window are none other than Jesus and Mary Magdalen. It is also intriguing that this stained glass window dates from eighty years prior to the genre of books published from the mid-1980's onwards which allude to a possible holy marriage and sacred union between Jesus and Mary Magdalen and a succeeding Holy Bloodline.

So key questions remain: who commissioned this extraordinary symbolic stained glass window which runs quite contrary to conventional Christian theology? And why was it placed in a Christian church on the Scottish western Isle of Mull?

Copyright 2004 Barry Dunford. All rights reserved. PERMISSION FOR USE: No part of this article may be published without the permission of the author Barry Dunford.

Barry Dunford is the author of The Holy Land of Scotland: Jesus in Scotland and the Gospel of the Grail (revised and expanded edition 2002). http://www.sacredconnection.ndo.co.uk


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