Fetlar - Chapel of Christ the Encompasser

Society of our Lady of the Isles, Aithness, Fetlar, ZE2 9DJ



As of September 2015,  the Community is moving to Unst. For the moment the buildings are being retained on Fetlar pending a decision on their future.

The Society of Our Lady of the Isles (SOLI) is a family style Anglican/Episcopalian community adapting to the particular setting of Shetland.

Over the years the religious life, here on the island of Fetlar, has developed from one woman living the solitary life into a group of women who, in support of each other, continue to deepen two strands of the SOLI vocation, that is, the two separate callings which dovetail and are complimentary.

The first is found in the living out of a lifestyle under a hermit rule within which are made the three monastic vows.  The hours of the Divine Office, that is, Mattins, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline are said throughout the day by each Hermit of SOLI in the oratory of her hermitage.  Compline is said in chapel when any visitors which to attend.  The hermit attends Mass several times a week with her oblate-companion sisters and also shares a weekly choir practice.  She may, if she wishes, meet with visitors over coffee after the Sung Mass on a Sunday, otherwise the hermits only see persons requestings to speak with them by arrangement.  They are responsible for their own hermitage cooking and domestic arrangements, each has a workroom and tends a small garden around her hermitage if she is able.

The second calling within SOLI is that of the Oblate-Companion who living by independent means makes promises under an individual plan of life (rather than taking vows) giving her life to God in a mutually supportive role.  Also, like the hermit, she takes her share in the work of SOLI through added to this participates to some degree in island life.  In her living out of a more communal type of lifestyle she shares Morning and Evening Prayer, as well as some of her work and recreation with her fellow oblate-companions.  Notwithstanding, she too treasures a core of solitary living within her home and garden.

Finally, there are added to the order a group of friends whom we call the Caim (Caim is a Celtic word meaning ‘encompassment or the circle around’) who live, work and pray, each in his or her own home-setting, thereby forming the family circle around SOLI.

However, out of these core and well-established members of the Caim has grown the additional vocation of the External Oblates – those who have felt the calling to deepen their spiritual lives by a stronger relationship with SOLI;  people who because their circumstances in life do not allow them to test their vocation (to the hermit or the oblate companion life in Fetlar) ask to live by a personal rule of life, as approved by the Mother Guardian, within their own homes.

The SOLI community see themselves as privileged guardians of a small corner of God’s creation, carrying forward the ancient Christian monastic tradition now re-established in the Shetland Isles.

The planned renovations to our buildings at Aithness are almost completed, so far creating three dedicated hermitages and a common meeting area for the community, friends, and visitors.

As we now move into a new chapter of the deepening of the SOLI prayer, vocation and lifestyle, the decision has been made (with regret) that we can no longer maintain our more active role of providing self-catering for visitors.  There is alternative accommodation on Fetlar and neighbouring islands and our friends and other visitors staying in Shetland are most welcome to attend the services in our chapel of Christ the Encompasser.

For information in regard to the times of our chapel services, or to arrange an appointment with the SOLI nuns please contact Rose Duncan.

Clergy and office bearers

  • Mother Guardian | Rev Mother Mary Agnes
  • Warden | Very Rev Gerald Stranraer-Mull

Contact details

All enquiries to Rose Duncan: