Glasgow Cathedral is situated in the east of the city, north of High Street next to Glasgow Royal Infirmary. It is an important Christian building because it was the only cathedral in Scotland which was not destroyed at the Scottish Reformation in 1560. It is also known as St Kentigern’s or St Mungo’s Cathedral.
It dates from before the Scottish Reformation and was the main Roman Catholic church of the Archdiocese of Glasgow before 1560. It was consecrated on 6th July 1197. The final pre-Reformation custodian was Archbishop James Beaton who fled to Paris in 1560, taking with him the Cathedral’s relics and valuable ornamentation.
NB: The Reformation refers to the group of individuals who objected to the doctrines, rituals, and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church and was led in Scotland by John Knox.
John Knox stressed the importance of bible teaching and preaching and the large cathedral buildings were not required. Glasgow Cathedral remained intact because it was used to house three seperate congregations.
The building is currently maintained by the Government and is still used as a place of worship by the Church of Scotland.
Diamond Jubilee Service
On June 4th Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh will attend a Jubilee Thanksgiving Service at the Cathedral. There are special pews in the Cathedral for members of the Royal Family.
St Mungo’s Tomb
The interior of the Cathedral has many small rooms and memorials. The main memorial is of St Mungo – this was a great centre of Christian pilgrimage until the Scottish Reformation. His remains are said to still rest in the crypt.
The current motto of Glasgow City ‘Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of His word and the praising of His name‘ often abbreviated to ‘Let Glasgow flourish‘ was inspired by St Mungo’s original call “Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of the word”.
St Mungo (or Saint Kentigern) was the late 6th century apostle of the Kingdom of Strathclyde and patron saint and founder of the city of Glasgow.
The cloth covering the tomb (which is used as a communion table) was designed by Malcolm Lochead who currently teaches Design at Glasgow Caledonian University.
The design is based on the rhyme concerning the miracles of Saint Mungo:
Here is the bird that never flew
Here is the tree that never grew
Here is the bell that never rang
Here is the fish that never swam
The patchwork cloth uses fifty shades of silk dupion in patches ranging from half an inch by two inches to two inches square. The front of the cloth represents the warmth of the Church with an image of a tree (Mungo) a burning bush (Church of Scotland) and the cranes of the ship yards which
made Glasgow great.
The east face represents the river Clyde with a silver bell and a fish to representing Saint Mungo. Fifty-four members of the Glasgow and West of Scotland Embroiderers’ Guild created the embrodery.
The above image shows the east face of the tomb.
The above photograph shows the miracles of St Mungo on top of a lamp-post outside the Cathedral.
This dates from the middle of the 13th century. The great East Window was added in 1951 and shows the writers of the Gospels, St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke and St. John. The Gospels are the first four books of the New Testament in the Christian Bible and document the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ.
The seating is arranged with the pews facing east in the manner of Reformed worship. The pews were originally installed between 1851-1856 and were refashioned in 1957 with donations from members of the public and businesses.
The ceiling of the Quire has oak carvings .
Blacadder’s Aisle has a ceiling of which contains the finest examples of carved bosses in Scotland. Blacadder was Archbishop between 1483 and 1508. After the Reformation, the Aisle was the burying place of Ministers of the Cathedral.
The Aisle is still used as a place of worship today.
The Aisle also has some beautiful stained glass depicting Biblical characters. The windows below depict the Mary being told by the Angel Gabriel that she would give birth to Jesus Christ.
The Law Monument
The 17th century monument of Archbishop James Law (1615-1632) almost completely conceals the windows in the Chapel of St. Stephen and St. Lawrence.
Archbishop Law was an Archbishop of Glasgow and was a generous benefactor to schools and hospitals in Glasgow.
The above are some highlights of Glasgow Cathedral. There are many more areas of the Cathedral to explore and spend time on. To appreciate the building and its history it is worth spending a few hours there.
Guided walks are also available where experienced guides will take visitors around the Cathedral and explaining the building and past events in more detail.
Address: Glasgow Cathedral, Castle Street, Glasgow, G4
Between 09.30 and 17.30 April to September
Between 09.30 and 16.30 October to March