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St Thenew

By Alex Woolf

Glasgow's St Enoch does not commemorate a 6th century saint called Enoch but one variously called Thaney, Taneu, Theonia, etc. The initial "T" of the name has become confused with the "t" at the end of "saint". The Life of Kentigern written at the instigation of Bishop Herbert of Glasgow (1147-64) claims that "Thaney" was the daughter of Leudonus the semi-pagan king of Lothian. She was raped by Ewen, son of Erwegende (the Ywain ab Urien of Welsh legend), and gave birth to Glasgow's patron Kentigern or Mungo.

Jocelin of Furness, rewriting the Life c. 1190, did not name the father of "Taneu" and says that she was unaware of how she became pregnant. Both versions of the story have the girl's father cast her from a high place (Traprain Law in the earlier version and Drumpelier near Old Monkland in the second) when he discovers that she is pregnant. On miraculously surviving this punishment she was cast adrift on the Forth and came ashore at the church of St Servanus (Culross?) where she gave birth to the saint.

The cult which grew around St Thenew in Glasgow also developed in Wales where it was held that she had other sons by her marriage to the northern Prince Dingad, son of Nudd. The earliest surviving reference to her is in fact in the Life of St Winifred (c. 1140), in which Winifred, went to St Eleri for instruction. St Eleri put Winifred in the care of his mother "Theonia" whom Winifred eventually succeeded as abbess of Gwytherin (Clwyd). Kentigern was also a cult figure in Clwyd.


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