Episcopalian cleric honoured

AN EPISCOPALIAN cleric who dedicated his life to helping the street children and prostitutes of Victorian Aberdeen is to be made the equivalent of a saint by his Church, exactly a century after his death.

Father John Comper is to be declared a "Hero of the Faith" by the Scottish Episcopal Church - the greatest honour the Church can bestow.

The Scottish Episcopal Church has not created a saint since the Reformation in the 16th century, but heroes of the faith are awarded their own special day in the Church’s calendar.

The members of the Aberdeen synod have already unanimously approved the move to bestow the accolade on Father Comper, and the honour is expected to be confirmed by the Church’s general synod in June.

Father Comper, who died in 1903 at the age of 80, spent over 40 years working with the poor and destitute in Aberdeen’s East End slums.

An Englishman, he first arrived in the north-east of Scotland to work as a school-teacher, but turned his back on a career in education to be ordained into the ministry.

After serving as a rector for Episcopalian parishes in Inverness and Nairn, he left his post as vicar at the prosperous St John’s Church in Aberdeen to devote his life to missionary work among the poor of the city, living in the slums around Aberdeen harbour and Gallowgate.

He established two new churches, St Margaret’s and St Clement’s, in the docklands area and persuaded the sisters of the Society of St Margaret, based in East Grinstead, to establish a community in Aberdeen to work alongside him in caring for the poor.

Father Clive Clapson, of St Mary’s Church, said Father Comper’s honour was long overdue. " Although he is best known for his work with the poor in Aberdeen, he also founded many schools throughout Scotland, and there was a whole generation of Scots, many of them not Episcopalians, who would have had no education at all but for Father Comper."