Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Prayers for priest found dead on beach

Father Vazhachira Image copyright Catholic Church
Image caption Father Vazhachira was born in India and moved to Scotland last year

A priest whose body was found on a beach in East Lothian has been remembered during mass at his parish church.

Father Martin Xavier Vazhachira had served at St John The Baptist Roman Catholic Church in Corstorphine, Edinburgh, since last year.

His body was found on the beach at Dunbar on Friday afternoon. The cause of death has yet to be established.

Father Vazhachira, 33, was originally from India.

Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh Leo Cushley led the service. About 200 people attended.

The archbishop said of those attending mass: "They're bewildered and saddened by what has happened."

He said they would miss their priest greatly, adding: "He was a very kind and gentle man and people here had grown very affectionate and fond of him already in this short space of time so they really don't know what to make of it.

"I share that sentiment. We're all a little bit bewildered by what has happened."

Father Vazhachira was a native of Kerala in southern India and was ordained a priest in 2013.

He arrived in Scotland in 2016 in order to undertake post-graduate studies at Edinburgh University.

He also served in local Catholic parishes, initially in Falkirk, before being appointed to Corstorphine in October 2016.

He was last seen on Tuesday afternoon in his parish house.

The alarm was raised by parishioners after he failed to turn up for Holy Mass on Wednesday morning.

His family in India have been informed of his death and a post-mortem examination will be carried out to establish the cause.

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