A MONK who ensured the sign of his faith was on top of the world has died just two weeks after his 93rd birthday.

Father Martin Haigh arranged for a crucifix to be placed at the summit of Mount Everest when it was first conquered in 1953.

A member of the Benedictine order at Ampleforth Abbey, near Helmsley, North Yorkshire, he sent the small crucifix, blessed by Pope Pius XII, to expedition leader Sir John Hunt.

He asked for it to be placed at the peak – a request that mountaineer Edmund Hilary carried out when he reached the top with Tenzing Norgay.

And 60 years later, when he was well in to his 90s, the monk was still giving presentations about the momentous day.

Fr Martin wrote to Sir John: “When [the real] history of the world comes to be read, the day when men climbed to the very summit of the earth and left there the sign and symbol of our faith will rank as one of the very great days in the history of the world.”

That same year Fr Martin also started, along with the then-Father – later Cardinal - Basil Hume, the annual Ampleforth Lourdes Pilgrimage.

For more than 50 years Fr Martin also gave lectures on the Shroud of Turin, culminating in the 2004 release of a DVD and video – “The Wonder of the Shroud.”

Fr Martin was born in London in 1922 and educated at Ampleforth College. He joined the monastic community in September 1940 and was ordained priest in July 1949.

He had a variety of roles at the college including teaching art, French and games as well as serving as a housemaster and at the end of his time in the school served in a number of parishes.

He was also an accomplished artist who in 1993 and 1998 held exhibitions of oil pastels in Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral.

At the age of 92, in early 2014, Fr Martin was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia and expressed a desire not to have any treatment, but to let the disease take its course. He died peacefully in the monastery infirmary on January 31.

Fr Martin’s body will be received into the Abbey Church at Ampleforth at 6pm on February 9. His funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11.30am in the Abbey Church on February 10, followed by burial in the Monks’ Wood.