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‘High Priestess’ of cult dies

22 November 2013


"Honoured": an engraved figure of the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis, on the wall of the Philae temple, on the island of Philae, Egypt

"Honoured": an engraved figure of the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis, on the wall of the Philae temple, on the island of Philae, Egypt

THE self-styled high priestess of an Egyptian cult founded in County Carlow was given a Church of Ireland funeral service, after a private ceremony at Huntington Castle on Wednesday.

Olivia Durdin-Robertson, who died on Thursday of last week, aged 96, founded the Fellowship of Isis, which claims to honour an ancient Egyptian goddess, in the early '70s, with her late brother Lawrence. He was a former Anglican priest, ordained in 1948, who had served as Rector of East Bilney, in Norfolk, from 1952 to 1957.

The cult gained international attention, and its leaders claim to have up to 30,000 followers around the world. Its headquarters are at Huntington Castle, which is near Clonegal, a small village on the borders of Carlow and Wexford in the Irish Republic.

There is an Egyptian-style temple to the goddess in the basement of the castle, where ceremonies take place, and which was also the location for the private funeral ceremony that preceded the public Anglican funeral service in St Fiacc's, Clonegal.

The Rector of St Fiacc's, the Revd Michael Stevenson, said that Miss Durdin-Robinson had been "very definite" in her request for a Church of Ireland funeral.

"Despite her unorthodox beliefs, she would, I think, have been very much in favour of Jesus. In her own way, I suppose she would have counted herself as a Christian, and we don't analyse the belief structure of people we give funeral services for," he said on Monday.

A "memorial event" to mark Miss Durdin-Robinson's death will be held in London on 27 November.

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