Two senior Scottish churchmen are traveling to Shetland this weekend to take part in the 'Up Helly Aa' Viking fire festival.
The Most Rev Mario Conti, the new Roman Catholic Archbishop-Elect of Glasgow, will be joining The Most Rev Bruce Cameron, the 'Primus' or head of the Scottish Episcopal Church, at the celebrations.
It will be Archbishop-Elect Conti's first major public appearance since the Pope appointed him to the key Glasgow post earlier this month.
It is also thought to be the first time that leading figures from both churches have been invited to attend the traditional event.
Both men will be welcomed by chief Viking the 'Guizer Jarl' at a reception in Shetland Islands Council Town Hall, Lerwick at 10.30am on Tuesday.
He will receive them in full Viking battle dress, surrounded by his 'Jarl Squad' warriors.
The clerics will also lead two services celebrating Christian unity at the piscopal and Roman Catholic churches in Lerwick.
The Rev Martin Oxley, Rector of St Magnus Scottish Episcopal church, Lerwick, said: "There is a very strong relationship between the Roman Catholic and the Scottish Episcopal churches in Shetland. These services celebrate the many things that we are doing together."
Sunday 27/01/02 7pm Christian Unity Service - St Magnus Episcopal Church, Greenfield Place, Lerwick. Archbishop-Elect Conti will preach.
Monday 28/01/02 7pm Christian Unity Service - St Margaret's Roman Catholic Church, Lerwick
Tuesday 29/01/02 10.30am Reception with Guizer Jarl at Shetland Islands Council Town Hall.
Both Bishop Cameron and Archbishop-Elect Conti will stay for the parade and shows.
NOTE TO EDITORS
Up Helly Aa is an often raucous festival of vaguely pagan origin that celebrates Shetland's ancient association with the Vikings. During the day, the Guizer Jarl leads his squad through the streets. At night he is joined by 1,000 'Guizers' who light torches and set fire to a huge wooden Viking ship on Gilbertson Park, worryingly near the Roman Catholic church.
Squads then tour the town putting on shows.
The Scottish Episcopal Church is a member of the Anglican family of churches. It has hundreds of congregations across Scotland, from Burravoe on the Isle of Yell in the north to Kirkcudbright in the south.
(Scottish Episcopal press officer)
0131 225 6357 (w)
07929 003809 (mob)
0131 346 7247 (fax)
(Roman Catholic press officer)
0141 221 1168 (w)
07968 122291 (mob)
0141 204 2458 (fax)
The Most Rev Bruce Cameron
Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church
also Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney
01224 636653 (w)
01224 208142 (h)
The Rev Martin Oxley
St Magnus Episcopal Church,
Greenfield Place, Lerwick
01595 693 862 (w)
07970 266578 (mob)
Shetland Islands Council Town Hall