Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Biographies


Saint Kentigern (Mungo, Cyndeyrn), Abbot, Bishop and founder of Glasgow



Source:  http://www.orthodoxdoncaster.co.uk/our-patron-saints.html

A first approach to the indigenous Orthodox Saints and Martyrs of the Ancient Church who lived and who propagated the Faith in the British Isles and Ireland during the first millennium of Christianity and prior to the Great Schism is being attempted in our website  in our desire to inform our readers, who may not be aware of the history, the labours or the martyrdom of this host of Orthodox Saints of the original One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of our Lord.

"The Church in The British Isles will only begin to grow when she begins to venerate her own Saints"     (Saint Arsenios of Paros 1877)

Saint Mungo, better known to us as Saint Kentigern, (Cyndeyrn Garthwys in Welsh), was the late 6th century apostle of the Brythonic Kingdom of what is now Strathclyde in modern Scotland. He is also founder of the city of Glasgow and its patron saint. 

Saint Mungo appears in the crest of Glasgow's coat-of-arms along with his miracles.

In Wales and the southern Brythonic regions of modern England, he was known by his birth and baptismal name, Kentigern. The Welsh Cyndeyrn, from which it is derived, means 'chief prince' but the meaning of its commonly attached suffix, 'Garthwys', is unknown . 

His pet name of Mungo in Scotland and the Northern Brythonic areas of modern England, is derived from the Brythonic word my-nghu which means 'dear one'. In the northern parts of Cumbria can be found a many churches dedicated to either Mungo or Kentigern. Our own Church is dedicated to St Kentigern along with St Columba who was an acquaintance of Mungo's. 

A 'Life of Saint Mungo' was written by the monastic hagiographer, Jocelin of Furness, circa 1185. In it, Jocelin states that he rewrote the 'life' from an earlier Glasgow legend which he combined with an old Gaelic document. Part of an earlier 'life' can be found in the British Library along with a later one, attributed to John of Tynemouth and said to be based on Jocelin's earlier work. 

These stories have it that Mungo's mother, Thenaw, also known as St. Thaney, who was the daughter of the Brythonic king, Lleuddun, became pregnant after being seduced by Owain mab Urien. King Lleuddun ruled in the Haddington region of what is now Scotland, possibly the Kingdom of Gododdin in the Old North. According to the British Library manuscript, on hearing of her plight her father became furious and had her thrown from the heights of Traprain Law, an iron age hill fort some 4 miles east of Haddington in East Lothian. Fortunately for her, she survived the fall but she was then left to drift across the River Forth to Culross in Fife after being abandoned in a coracle. 

It was there that Mungo was born and where he was brought up by Saint Serf who, at that time, was ministering to the Picts of that area. It was St Serf who gave him his now popular pet-name of Mungo. 

Mungo began his missionary work, at the age of twenty-five, concentrated along the Clyde, particularly on the site of what is now Glasgow, an area to which Christianity had already been introduced by Saint Ninian.

St Ninian's followers welcomed Mungo and arranged for him to be consecrated bishop by a visiting Irish bishop. He went on to build his church where the Clyde and the Molendinar Burn meet, and it is here that the current medieval cathedral now stands. He laboured in the district for some thirteen years, where he lived a very austere life in a small cell, making many converts by his holy example and his preaching. 

But then strong anti-Christian movement sprung up in the region, led by King Morken, who expelled Mungo. He travelled through Cumbria and on to Wales. He stayed for a while with Saint David at what is now St David's in modern Pembrokeshire before moving on to Gwynedd where he founded a cathedral at Llanelwy (modern day St Asaph). While here, he made a pilgrimage to Rome, but then the new King of Strathclyde, Riderch Hael, invited Mungo to return to his kingdom. Mungo agreed and appointed Saint Asaph as Bishop of Llanelwy in his place. 

Although he spent some time in his Episcopal seat at Hoddom in Dumfriesshire, where he evangelised the district of Galloway, he eventually returned to
the Glasgow area where a fairly large community grew up around him, this eventually becoming known as Clas-gu (meaning the 'dear family'). It was in nearby Kilmacolm that he was visited by Saint Columba, who at that time had been labouring in Strathtay. The two saints are said to have embraced, had a long conversation and then, before parting, exchanged their pastoral staves. 

In his old age, Mungo became increasingly feeble and is said to have died in his bath, on Sunday the 13th of January.

Tomb of St. Mungo in Glasgow Cathedral


Article published in English on: 20-3-2011.

Last update: 20-3-2011.