Celebrating 550 years of St Salvator's Chapel
When the Church of St Salvator was dedicated between 2 and 4 October 1460, James III was the Scottish King, England was embroiled in the Wars of the Roses and Christopher Columbus was a 9 year old with a desire to explore.
Life in the early days of the College of St Salvator was monastic in character with the Chapel forming a central part of everyday life. Each hour and season had its appropriate duties, educational and devotional. Students entered the University aged about 13. Every aspect of their lives was closely regulated. They were to speak only Latin and help with domestic work. They were forbidden to leave College without permission. No women were allowed in, except the laundress, who had to be at least 50.
St Salvator’s welcomed both students and townspeople alike though it would have looked significantly different, being furnished in pre-reformation splendour. During the Reformation much of its decoration was stripped and by 1560 services ceased as it was felt the University should worship in the Town Kirk (Holy Trinity), not ‘stand apart’.
Unsurprisingly the Chapel fell into disrepair. Renovations in the nineteenth century intended to restore full mediaeval splendour and in 1904 it became the official University Chapel.
Today the life of the Chapel continues at its vibrant best with staff, students, alumni and visitors of many different nationalities coming together for services and worship. We are thankful that St Salvator’s Chapel still offers space to find peace, to celebrate and to worship.