The Legend of St. Nathalan
by: Wheeler, Les
Lang ago in the days fan the first missionaries were makin their wye roon Scotland there wis a wee loon born in Tullich fa grew up tae be priest an he wis ca’d Nathalan. Noo he didna come fae a peer femilie, na, na, his fowk were rich an hid a fair skelp o grun. He hid a gweed education an grew up tae be a kenspeckled scholar, but he wisna aye a lucky loon.
He becam a priest an hid his ain wee chapel at Tullich an lookit at the religious needs o the fowk as weel as seein that aathing wis aa richt wi them. He got on weel wi nature for aathing seemed tae growe weel faniver he’d onything tae dee wi it an he hid a gweed gyan craft far he sowed his seed an hairstit his crops.
But things didna aye gyan sae weel for the fowk roon aboot an ae year there wis an affa drouth an famine an starvation wis the lot o the peer fowk. Nathalan opened his store sheds an gave awa aa his store crops an seeds tae them that wir sufferin maist, but the waur o it wis that he gave aathing awa an fan Pess cam roon he’d nae seed tae plant for himsel.
Noo, his ferm wis doon by the River Dee an the banks o the Dee at Tullich were gweed an sanny. Nathalan gaithert up haunfaes o the sand an scattert it aa ower his parks. He used the sann as seed! An, ye ken this, come hairstin time he’d better crops nor he’d ivver hin. Aathing grew an ripened like nivver afore. Weel, he gaithert some o his fowk in aboot an they got yokit tae hairst the crops.
But, suddenly, the widder changed. Great bleck cloods cam ower an nae far ahin cam drivin rain. Aye the onding withoot devaul an battered aathing wi blusterin win – near haun a hurricane. The water gushed aff the hills. The burns were ragin an the Gairn, reid wi clay an sann, wis ragin like nivver afore. Ye couldna hear yersel spik for the roar o’t. The Dee swalled an burst its banks an Nathalan’s parks were flooded. There hid nivver bin a spate like it.
Weel, human nature being fit it is a lot o names were gaen tae God an the hivvins. It wis jist the kine o thing ye say fan ye’re nae thinkin aa that clearly. But nae lang efter he wis cursin his luck Nathalan saa the hivvins clear, the day brichtened up an the waaters gaed doon. Nathalan wis ashamed o himsel for hae ill thochts o God an he wis determined tae mak himsel piye for’t. He got an iron chain an tied it roon his richt ankle an pit on a lock sae it couldna come aff. He vowed nivver tae tak aff the chain till he’d made a pilgrimage tae Rome tae ask the Pope tae forgie his sin. He made the vow an fan he’d feenished he took the key o the lock an flung it intae the River Dee. The spot far he did this is still caa’d the Key Pool.
Weel efter a lang, lang journey an mony pains Nathalan got tae Rome. Roon the mony shrines in Rome he wint asking to be forgein for dootin God. Nae til he’d visited as mony shrines as possible did he think aboot mait an getting something tae eat. There wis a wee loon sellin fish an Nathalan bocht a wee fish fae the loon for the little siller he hid.
Nathalan,cooked the fish, opened it up an there in its belly, still nae roosty, wis the verra key he thrown intae the Dee far awa among the hills o Mar. He saa this a sign fae God the he’d forgie his sin an wi a licht hairt Nathalan unlocked the iron that hid bin roon his queet for sae lang. Fan the story got roon Nathalan became weel kent in Rome and wint on tae be a bishop but he wis needin hame an eventually the Pope gaed him permission tae return tae Deeside.
Eence hame he built three kirks – een at Tullich, een at Coull in Cromar, an een at Bothelin. A lot o fowk kent o the story o Nathalan an mony a body fa wis sick, lame or afflicted cam on pilgrimage tae the kirk at Tullich. Mony wint hame cured an that’s fu Nathalan is the Saint o the Braes o Mar.