Saint Kentigern


St. Kentigern or St. Mungo lived during the 6th and 7th centuries and is the patron saint of the Church of Glasgow which he is supposed to have founded. According to legend he was virginally conceived by an East Lothian princess who was punished by her father by being cast off a hill top and then set adrift in the sea. She eventually landed at Culross where she and the child were cared for by St. Serf.

The coat of arms of Glasgow features St. Kentigern

While under the care of St. Serf we are told Kentigern performed a number of miracles. He brought a dead robin back to life, rejuvenated a cook and then created a wave behind him when he left which prevented Serf from following him.

Kentigern went to Wales and was eventually established as a bishop of the Cambrian region before settling and establishing his church in Glasgow. The thing is there is no evidence to suggest Glasgow was established before the early 12th century and the colourful books recording the lives of saints are far from accurate sources. These were often used by bishops to legitimise their claims to certain territory so there are obvious reasons for them to associate an early saint with the city of Glasgow.

St. Kentigern is associated with four symbols which represent some of his miracles, the bird, the tree, the bell and the fish. The bird is the robin he brought back to life, the tree refers to an incident when he let the fire go out and was able to light it again by taking branches from a tree (this doesn't seem very miraculous), the bell he is thought to have brought from Rome and it was used to mourn the dead but the best story of all is the fish. A local queen suspected of infidelity by her husband was to be put to death. The King demanded she show her ring which he claimed she had given to her lover; in fact he had thrown into the River Clyde. Kentigern ordered someone to catch a fish from the river and he opened it to produce the ring inside, thereby saving her life.

Kentigern is supposed to have died in the early 7th century but this may just be an attempt to make him appear senior to St. Columba. The truth is we don't know when he died. The current Glasgow Cathedral is supposed to be built on the spot where he was laid to rest.