Exploring the Religious History of the Island

An annual pilgrimage to explore the island’s Christian heritage is being held this month, with participants invited to use the opportunity to walk, talk and reflect through its history. 

Running from Saturday May 22 to Saturday May 29, Praying the Keeills, offers something for every degree of mobility and interests.

Organised by Isle of Man Churches, the week reflects the island’s position at the centre of early Christianity in the British Isles.

Organiser Dr Andrew Foxton said: ‘The week helps participants to step aside from busy lives and rediscover a fellowship that so many have lost. During the week a series of walks, visits, car journeys plus a coach tour will provide variety – and hopefully cater for a wide range of needs. 

‘Every day there will be somewhere different to explore together. No charge is made for any of the events (apart from a pre-booked coach trip) though donations are welcome. The aim of the programme for the week is to explore sacred sites, learn about our Celtic and spiritual heritage and enjoy fun and fellowship together.’

What is a keeill?

Dr Foxton explained that: ‘Keeills were the early form of churches built between the 8th and 12th centuries.  The earliest of the keeills, mainly made of sods, were very rarely bigger than three metres by five metres internally, and now survive to less than a metre in height.  Some of the keeills were more substantial –  bigger, and built of stone.

‘A walled graveyard surrounded some of the keeills and a well is usually found close by.  Crosses found at keeills have been moved to the present parish churches.

Our Celtic forebears would have described the keeills as “thin places” where we can draw close to God.  Prayer and meditation were important to those who worshipped in or around keeills, as they should be to us.’

Starting at 10am on Saturday May 22 at the Royal Chapel of St John’s, full details of the day by day programme are listed below and can be found at:

www.prayingthekeeills.org/

www.facebook.com/pages/Praying-the-Keeills/172425399573021

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