Prayers for the King

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The Collegiate Church in Tain was not just home to the relics of St Duthus but also a Royal Chantry where masses were said for many of the kings and Queens of Scotland.

On the 12th of September 1487, the Bishop of Ross formally established the collegiate status of St Duthac’s Church in Tain. The church was not only an important place of pilgrimage in 15th century Scotland it had also become a Royal Chantry, a place where prayers were said for Scotland's Kings and Queens. 

This was initiated by William Earl of Ross in 1321 decades before construction on the building had even begun. He endowed lands to the church to pay for masses for King Alexander III of Scotland; King Robert I, his successors; and also John, Earl of Athol*. Once the church was fully constructed, further payments for masses were made for the souls of the royal family by King James II in 1458 and James III in 1482. This meant that by 1487, regular masses were being said there for many of the 15th century Kings and Queens of Scotland, perhaps someway explaining King James IV’s obsession with St Duthac and Tain.

Kings and Queens that masses were said for at Tain;

King Alexander III of Scotland (1321)

King Robert the Bruce (1321)

King James I of Scotland (1458)

King James II of Scotland (1482)

Queen of Scots, Joan Beaufort (1458)

Queen of Scots, Mary of Gueldres (1458 & 1482)

Queen of Scots, Margaret of Denmark (1482)


*The Earl of Ross paying for masses for John Earl of Athol is worth noting, John was hung by King Edward I of England after being taken prisoner whilst guarding King Robert Bruce’s family in 1306. It seems likely that he was with Bruce’s wife, daughter, and sisters in Tain when they were captured and handed over to the English king by the Earl of Ross. This payment and founding charter by King Robert I suggest that the church may also have been built as a way of an apology to the King by William the Earl of Ross for this notorious incident.