Every summer the community of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer (F.SS.R) organise a bonfire evening and barbecue on Papa Stronsay to which all the residents of Stronsay and their friends are invited.
This year, this was held on the evening of the 15th August, the feast of the 'Assumption of Our Blessed Lady', which also was a very special day for Brother Martin Mary F.SS.R who earlier that day in the monastery chapel, had taken his final vows.
The trip to Papa Stronsay was scheduled for 6.30p.m. from the Stronsay main pier, with transport provided by SS St Alphonsus under its erstwhile captain, Fr Anthony Mary F.SS.R.with passengers numbering about 50, including many children.
'Torchman' beating measured retreat after lighting bonfire!
The grand lighting of the bonfire was at about 7.15p.m. with Brother Martin's father having the 'honour' of principal fire-lighter.As the flames were taking hold, and from a suitably discreet distance, Fr Michael Mary F.SS.R administered the traditional blessing.
Fr Michael Mary F.SS.R. blessing the fire - at a discreet distance!
The bonfire itself comprised basically old, discarded wooden pallets, and was about 20 feet tall and a decidedly compact 10.feet square. I am 'reliably informed' that the principal architect and also builder was Brother Nicodemus F.SS.R, with perhaps some 'advice' and 'assistance' from fellow confreres! It was ingeniously constructed in true Meccano, or should I say Lego style, with an intriguing wooden bird-house (unoccupied!) near the top, surmounted by a large and mysterious, but rather tatty unidentifiable flag, and on the side at ground level a cunningly marked opening indicated by a bluecloth, through which the 'torchman' thrust the flaming spill'
The bonfire's going well!
Everything went according to plan, not necessarily always the case on these occasions, with the bonfire lighting first time and providing a fine spectacle to all on Papa Stronsay and also those across the water on Stronsay, with glowing embers and sparks lighting the skyline for many hours.
That poor bird-house!
The buffet meal was lavish with a wide choice of tasty food, fresh-cooked sausages and other barbecued delicacies, choice of salads with ingredients grown in the monastic greenhouse, individual carrot and cheese dishes in garlic, prepared by Sister Onufria, a Basilian Sister, a visitor to Stronsay from the Ukraine, and other delights too numerous to mention. Two large trays of home-made scones were provided by a generous donor from Stronsay who I will not mention by name, but whose generosity to all good causes is well known. The liquid refreshment ranged from tea, coffee and lemonade, through to wine and longer alcoholic beverages. I enjoyed a glass of draught Guiness which was just right for the occasion. Fr Michael and Fr Anthony and all the Brothers were hospitality itself, cooking and serving the food and drink, and meeting and talking with everybody.
'Cure d'Ars' shrine in monastery grounds
Many visitors explored the monastery greenhouse, where flowers, vegetables and fruit, including peaches, grapes and soft fruit, proliferate. There is currently an excess of courgettes, and Val Lucas, one of the guests, was given one of the biggest courgettes that I have ever seen. It weighed approximately 5lb and was about 2 feet in length! Proof of the pudding is in the eating, and although I did not eat it, I was able to photograph Val staggering under its weight on her way home!
Val Lucas with the biggest courgette (aspidestra?) in the world!
Several guests visited the beautiful and usable, but as yet unfinished 'Purgatorial Association' chapel, specially set aside for prayer and intercession for the 'Holy Souls' in Purgatory.
It was a truly memorable and enjoyable evening, and although our family party left at about 10p.m. in the small boat, there were still many enjoying the balmy summer's night on Papa Stronsay with much merriment and song around the glowing embers.
Getting dark - embers starting to glow!
I understand it was past midnight before the ferry made its final trip to Stronsay and back.
For lots more about Br Martin Mary F.SS.R and his special day, also a little more about the bonfire and barbecue, see today's Post on the 'Transalpine Redemptorist' blogsite - link on my side-bar.
'Drive away sadness, preserving your tranquillity and a cheerful countenance in all events, with a constant uniformity. He who wills what God wills should never be downcast' (St Alphonsus (1696-1787) - founder of the Redemptorist Order)