Head church of the diocese of GlasgowGlasgow Cathedral stands majestically in the heart of Scotland’s largest city. It is the only medieval cathedral on the Scottish mainland to have survived the Protestant Reformation of 1560 virtually intact. There used to be a chanonry around it – a precinct where the bishops (and later archbishops) and clergy had their residences. To its south, a thriving burgh sprang up, under episcopal patronage. That burgh has since expanded into the great metropolis we now see.
The shrine of St KentigernThe inspiring edifice dates mostly from the 13th century. However, it was dedicated to St Kentigern – or Mungo, as he is more affectionately known. Kentigern was the first bishop within the ancient British kingdom of Strathclyde, whose political capital was at Dumbarton Rock. His diocese was vast, reaching from Loch Lomond in the north to Cumbria in the south. He is believed to have been buried on the cathedral site in 612.
A beacon of prayerQuite simply, Glasgow Cathedral is the finest building surviving in Scotland from the 13th century. Indeed, it is widely regarded as the high point of cathedral building in Europe.
Reform and re-useThe Protestant Reformation of 1560 did away with the need for bishops answerable to the Pope. Although bishops did continue in the established church in Scotland until their final abolition in 1689, their role was greatly reduced. Their cathedral was ‘cleansed’ of its Catholic trappings and put to use as a parish kirk – in fact, three parish kirks. The choir housed the Inner High Kirk, the west end of the nave the Outer High Kirk, and the crypt the Barony Kirk.
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