HE WAS the man who made Glasgow, our first bishop and our patron saint.

St Kentigern or St Mungo was born in the sixth century and he died in Glasgow on January 13, 614.

The process of adopting St Mungo as our patron saint began some 600 years after his death. This was a milestone period in the city’s history, when it became a Burgh and a major episcopal centre, and when Glasgow Cathedral was founded.

In about 1115 the Glasgow diocese was re-established, making it an episcopal centre of an enormous, sprawling diocese, spreading to the border of England and including Cumbria. The first traces of Glasgow as an administrative centre are firmly linked to its role as the centre of an expanding bishopric, leading to the formal foundation of the City 60 years later.

In 1136 Glasgow’s first Cathedral was consecrated, with King David 1st in attendance. This was on the spot where St Mungo lived, worshipped, and was buried.

Glasgow’s status as a place of pilgrimage was enhanced by Pope Alexander’s 1161 decree requiring all adults in the diocese to make annual pilgrimage to St Mungo’s shrine. In 1197 the cathedral was re-consecrated after a fire and in 1233 work began on the building which survives today.

We know about St Mungo through two lives written about him in the 12th century, commissioned by Bishop Herbert (1147-1164) and by Bishop Jocelyn (1175-1199). The most complete is the latter, written around 1185. This was possibly to promote the collection of funds for the re-building of the Cathedral so intimately associated with St Mungo’s name.

The diocese and township of Glasgow existed before the burgh which was a Bishop’s and not a Royal Burgh.

Much of our history is derived from the long-lasting devotion to St Mungo. When King William the Lion made Glasgow a Burgh in 1175, he evoked his memory: “God and Saint Kentigern, and to Jocelyn Bishop of Glasgow, and to each of his successors, forever.”

St Mungo and his miracles were incorporated into our earliest seals and are to be found in the current Coat of Arms. These can be traced to the early seals of Glasgow’s Bishops and to the Burgh Common Seal. The fish was the first to appear in 1270, joined by the bird in in 1271 and, shortly thereafter the tree, or at least a branch. It was in 1647 that the emblems appeared in something like the combination of what became the official arms of the city, granted by the Lord Lyon in 1866.

Glasgow Times:

The city’s motto, Let Glasgow Flourish, is a shortened version of text inscribed on the bell of the Tron Kirk cast in 1631: ‘Lord let Glasgow flourish through the preaching of Thy word and Praising Thy name.

Find out more about the St Mungo Festival, which runs from January 7 to 14 at mediaevalglasgow.org/events