St Mungo,¬†Glasgow’s patron saint at Tron Steeple.

This evening, I am posting information on Glasgow’s patron saint, St Mungo or St Kentigern.

St Mungo was part of a wave of early Christian missionaries who were active in Scotland during the 6th century AD. Although St Mungo was born in Scotland many of his contemporaries came from Ireland. This was the time of the Celtic Church which was dominant in Scotland until being eclipsed by the Roman Catholic Church after the Synod of Whitby in the late 7th century, AD.

St Mungo as patron saint of art and music at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow

The summary information on St Mungo provided below is obtained from a source written 600 years after Mungo’s death and may be interlaced with myth.

  • St Mungo was born around AD 518 at Culross in Fife, eastern Scotland which is about thirty-two miles N.E. of Glasgow.
  • Mungo and his mother were inducted into the Christian religion at Culross.
  • During his boyhood Mungo is credited with two quasi miracles: bringing a dead robin back to life and re-kindling a dead fire.
  • Around AD 550 Mungo was ordained and embarked on a missionary career. Upon death of a local dignitary he arranged for the body to be placed in a cart pulled by two wild bulls. The cart came to rest at an abandoned but earlier Christian site which is now occupied by Glasgow Cathedral.
  • Mungo was ordained Bishop around AD 543 at age about 25 years.He lived a penitential life as a monk in the region of what is now Glasgow and close to the River Clyde.
  • Because of friction with local pagans Mungo went to Wales for about twenty years where he founded churches and a monastery.
  • About AD 573 Mungo was brought back to Glasgow following a Christian battle victory led by the King of Strathclyde, Rydderch whose power base was at Dumbarton, near Glasgow.
  • After spending eight years¬†proselytising in the Galloway region of southern Scotland Mungo returned to his former base in Glasgow.
  • At this time a story evolved concerning King Rydderch the essence of which is that the King’s wife gave her ring to a knight of the court. However, Rydderch spotted the ring and became suspicious. At night he removed the ring from the knight’s finger and threw it in the river. and later asked for his wife to produce the said ring but, of course, she could not. Mungo became involved and instructed a monk to fish in a certain spot where the ring had entered the water.The monk caught a salmon and upon cutting it open the ring was found inside the fish and returned it to the Queen thereby re-establishing domestic harmony.
  • Later in life Mungo visited Pope Gregory in Rome and was handed the gift of a bell which was used to summon the populace to prayer.
  • Mungo died about age 83 years in AD 603 and was buried as a site now occupied by the lower church of Glasgow Cathedral.

Note that the statue in image at top of post shows Mungo with symbols of robin, fish and bell.

Frieze above Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art illustrating extracts from Mungo’s life.

Sculpture of St Mungo in Ingram Street, Glasgow.

Glasgow Cathedral, Scotland

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