Legend has it that in the cold waters of the Molendinar Burn, St Kentigern founded his church on its west bank. The Molendinar Burn was a stream which wended its way through a small community. This community eventually grew to become Glasgow.
The people of Glasgow loved St Kentigern so much and held him in such high esteem. They called him ‘Mungo’, meaning ‘dear beloved’ or ‘dear one’. When St Kentigern (now more commonly called ‘St Mungo’) died in 603, he was buried in the church that he had founded.
In 1136, by the banks of that same burn and on the same spot, Bishop Achaius consecrated a church on the 9th of July, 1136. That church was destroyed, and in 1197 Bishop Jocelyn consecrated a new church on the same site..
In 1188, Bishop Jocelyn had successfully freed Glasgow Cathedral from its dependancy on the English Church. The See of York had claimed the right of supremacy over the bishopric, but Pope Alexander III decreed that the See of Glasgow was subordinate only to the Vatican.
After the death of the Queen Regent, Mary of Guise, (who was a Catholic and opposed any efforts to reform Scotland) – the Scottish Parliament met in 1560 and a proposal was put forward seeking the abolition of Popery and decrying the corruption of Roman Catholicism.
The Scottish Parliament asked six ministers to draw up a document outlining the principles of the reformed church. the document produced was called the Scottish Confession. John Knox was one of the six ministers who drafted the document.
The Scottish Confession proclaimed that the Protestant church would preach the true Word of God and the right administration of the sacraments of Jesus Christ.
Scotland was declared a Protestant nation and there followed a period in Scotland’s history where all Catholic churches were attacked and left roofless (except for Glasgow Cathedral), as the Reformists swept forward and imposed their beliefs across the land.
Some historians believe that in 1579, the magistrates of Glasgow, at the behest of the Principal of The University of Glasgow Andrew Melville, ordered that Glasgow Cathedral be destroyed, and its stones used to build smaller Protestant churches.
As the Reformers marched towards the Cathedral, they were met by members of the Incorporated Trades of Glasgow who had formed a defensive circle around the Cathedral to prevent it from being destroyed.
After a long discussion, it was agreed by both parties that the Reformers could go into the Cathedral and destroy statues, paintings, fabrics, books and any other signs of Catholicism, as long as they did not touch a stone of the Cathedral. Many items of historical value were destroyed, but at least the Cathedral was saved.
The first Archbishop of Glasgow after the Reformation was John Porterfield in 1571, and the last Archbishop was John Patterson until 1689. So Glasgow Cathedral has not been a Cathedral since that date, although Christian services have been held non-stop right up to the present time.
Many changes have taken place in the Cathedral over the centuries, and more recently stained glass windows have been replaced with new ones, notably the Millennium Window, which was unveiled on the 3rd of June 1999. The Cathedral is Crown Property and is maintained by Historic Environment Scotland.
Text & photographs by F J Harrigan
An amazing journey through the Molendinar Burn http://catchingphotons.co.uk/blog/miscellaneous/the-molendinar-burn/