Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/St. Kentigern

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For works with similar titles, see Kentigern.


(Or MUNGO)

Bishop, founder of the See of Glasgow, b. about 518; d. at Glasgow, 13 January, 603. His mother Thenaw was daughter of a British prince, Lothus (from whom the province of Lothian was called); his father's name is unknown. According to Jocelyn's life of Kentigern, the saint was born at Culross in Fife, and brought up until manhood by St. Serf (or Servanus) at his monastery there; but Skene shows that this connection between the two saints involves an anachronism, as St. Serf really belongs to the following century. At the age of twenty-five we find Kentigern (the name means "head chief", but he was popularly known as Mungo - in Cymric, Mwyn-gu, or "dear one"), beginning his missionary labours at Cathures, on the Clyde, the site of modern Glasgow. The Christian King of Strathclyde, Roderick Hael, welcomed the saint, and procured his consecration as bishop, which took place about 540. For some thirteen years he laboured in the district, living a most austere life in a cell at the confluence of the Clyde and the Molendinar, and making many converts by his holy example and his preaching. A large community grew up around him, became known as "Clasgu" (meaning the "dear family") and ultimately grew into the town and city of Glasgow.

About 553 a strong anti-Christian movement in Strathclyde compelled Kentigern to leave the district, and he retired to Wales, staying for a time with St. David at Menevia, and afterwards founding a large monastery at Llanelwy, now St. Asaph's, of which he appointed the holy monk Asaph superior in succession to himself. In 573 the battle of Arthuret secured the triumph of the Christian cause in Cumbria, and Kentigern, at the earnest appeal of King Roderick, returned thither, accompanied by many of his Welsh disciples. For eight years he fixed his see at Hoddam in Dumfriesshire, evangelizing thence the districts of Galloway and Cumberland. About 581 he finally returned to Glasgow, and here, a year or two later, he was visited by St. Columba, who was at that time labouring in Strathtay. The two saints embraced, held long converse, and exchanged their pastoral staves.

Kentigern was buried on the spot where now stands the beautiful cathedral dedicated in his honour. His remains are said still to rest in the crypt. His festival is kept throughout Scotland on 13 January. The Bollandists have printed a special mass for this feast, dating from the thirteenth century.

JOCELYN OF FURNESS, Life of Kentigern, c. 1185, printed, with English translation, in PINKERTON, Lives of the Scottish Saints (Paisley, 1889-95), is the only ancient authority, except a fragment of c. 1164; see FORBES, St. Ninian and St. Kentigern in Historians of Scotland, V (Edinburgh, 1874); see also STACK, Life of St. Mungo (Glasgow); FORBES, Kalendars of Scottish Saints (Edinburgh, 1872), 373-82; EDMONDS, The Early Scottish Church (Edinburgh, 1906), lx; BELLESHEIM, Hist. of Cath. Ch. of Scotl., I (Edinburgh, 1887), 149-157; Acta SS. (Brussels, 1863), II, 97-103.

D.O. HUNTER-BLAIR