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St Mungo Mother Shocker


Many cities have their patron saints. Saint Isidore is the patron of Madrid; Moscow has Saint George is that of Moscow and London has Saint Paul. But what about Glasgow?

No Tour of Glasgow would be complete without a mention of Saint Kentigern - better known as Saint Mungo. One of the first preachers in Scotland St Mungo’s life story is full of myth and legend and has a shocking start.

So the story goes, his mother Thenew (a daughter of a half-pagan king of Lothian) was wooed by Owain, prince of Rheged and possibly a Knight of the Round Table! But Thenew rejected him, which enraged her father and he punished her by enslaving her to a swineherd (a pig shepherd).

Later, unable to cope with the rejection, Owain allegedly disguised himself as a woman so as to get close to Thenew, found her and forced himself upon her. Thus the child was conceived.

Tenew’s father became furious when he found out that his daughter was pregnant (by a swineherd as he thought) and unmarried. Society wasn’t very progressive in the 6th century and the poor girl was sentenced to death by being thrown from a cliff.

Here is when the miracles start. She not only survived the impact of a 200m+ fall, but promptly took a coracle (a small round boat) and drifted across the river Forth to Culross in Ffie where she gave birth!

A boy was born, and named Kentigern. Unable to be cared for by his stigmatised mother, he was given to a monastery to be raised. There under the supervision of Saint Serf he grew to become future missionary of Scotland. He was Saint Serf’s favourite apprentice, and it was the master who gave him his nickname ‘Mungo’ which means ‘the Dear One’.

In his lifetime Mungo performed four miracles in Glasgow, which we’ll explore in a different Glasgow Private Tours blog. As a teaser; the following verse is used to remember Mungo's four miracles:

Here is the bird that never flew

Here is the tree that never grew

Here is the bell that never rang

Here is the fish that never swam


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