Father Denys Rutledge; born June 7, 1906, died November 7, 1997

Benedictine monk Father Denys Rutledge, who died at the age of 91 in Fort Augustus Abbey, on the shores of Loch Ness, was known in his long life devoted to God as a hermit, a best-selling author, as one who gave outstanding service as a chaplain in the Second World War, and as a first-class thinker on theological matters.

His long career in the Roman Catholic faith began in 1926 when the Birmingham-born man entered Fort Augustus Abbey as a novice.

By the time he was ordained as a priest a decade later he

had studied Classics at Edinburgh University, where he graduated with a First Class Honours degree.

On the outbreak of hostil-

ities in 1939 Father Denys immediately volunteered as an Army chaplain.

He was appointed to look after the spiritual needs of Catholic servicemen manning anti-aircraft batteries. He was given a motorbike and a petrol allocation to enable him to cover a vast ''parish'' consisting of the entire East Coast of Britain.

In 1941 he was posted to Malta and he was present throughout the siege of that strategically important Mediterranean island, when it came under heavy enemy aerial attack.

That led to the entire island civilian and service community being awarded the George Cross for gallantry for resisting the determined German efforts to knock it out as a key base

for supplying the British Eighth Army in its successful efforts

to thwart Rommel's Afrika Korps reaching and capturing the Suez Canal.

In the post-war era Father Denys embarked on a personal search for solitude and ''pure monasticism'', which led him towards a long spiritual journey as a ''hermit''.

The man, who colleagues say ''was blessed with the gift of a simple life'', spent several years living alone on the Scottish islands of Mull and Canna and then moved to India, continuing his hermit lifestyle. Later he lived as a hermit on a remote hillside in Chile.

Father Denys developed a keen concern for the poor

peoples of the Third World

and he regarded the basic Christian communities there as the right model for monastic communities in the West in the twentieth century.

He walked all the way back from India to the Highlands.

His travel book, In Search of Yogi, about his experiences in the subcontinent and on the marathon journey home, became an unexpected best-seller in Britain, and gave him a taste for further writing.

Turning to weightier subjects, he published Catechism through the Liturgy, regarded at the time as an important contribution to Catholic theology.

This was not least because, in it, he correctly anticipated by several years changes introduced by the Second Vatican Council, presided over by Pope John XXIII in 1962.

One of the council's keynote changes, predicted by Father Denys, was the abandonment

of Latin for prayers . . . the lit-urgy . . . in favour of the vernacular language.

His other books included

Cosmic Theology and The Complete Monk, the latter being

also considered to be an innovative work.

The Concelebrate Mass during the funeral service at

Fort Augustus on November 13 was presided over by Abbot Mark Dilworth.

Also present was Abbot Alfred Spencer, formerly of Pluscarden Priory, near Elgin, as well as his nephew Father Brian Rutledge and several other Catholic clergy from various parts of Scotland.