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Beginnings: Early times to 1560


St Kentigern

By Thomas Clancy

Kentigern Baptising Converts St Kentigern, also known by the affectionate name Mungo (from Old Welsh Munghu "my dear one") is patron and founder of the monastery that formed the basis of the later cathedral and burgh of Glasgow. An obituary for Conthigirnus in a Welsh annal for c. 612/614 may be that of the saint. Other evidence from this early period about Glasgow or its saint is lacking. With the foundation of the cathedral and diocese of Glasgow in the 12th century, successive bishops commissioned "Lives" of their patron. Gathering together traditions and folklore from around the diocese and beyond, these hagiographers created the portrait of Kentigern we have today.

Archbishop Blackadder's Seal Building on the territorial identity of the old kingdom of Cumbria, the Lives made Kentigern the son of an illicit union between the son of the king of Cumbria and a daughter of a Lothian nobleman. Cast adrift with her child, his mother Theneu (whence St Enoch), pitched up in Culross, Fife, where the boy was raised and educated by St Serf. He later left that saint and went off to found his own monastery in a disused graveyard by the Molendinar in the glen where the Cathedral rests today. Various adventures followed including disputes with a king, Morken, leading to his exile for a time in North Wales; and encounters with another king, Rhydderch, and his queen. It is with this queen's amorous affairs that Kentigern's famous miracle of the fish and the ring is associated - a tale well-known from folklore the world over. His feast-day is 13 January.

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