Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia

Saint Kentigern

Saint Mungo
Welsh: Cyndeyrn Garthwys
Latin: Kentigernus
Born: 518, Scotland
Died: 13 January 614, Scotland

Saint Kentigern was born around the year 518 in the Kingdom of Strathclyde, which encompassed parts of modern-day Scotland and England.

The Life of Saint Kentigern states he was the grandson of Lot, his mother was Thaney (Thenew), Lot’s daughter. According to his own legend, he was the son of a Princess Thenew, which is not too dissimilar to Thaney, who was the cast from Traprain Law, then exposed on the Firth of Forth in a coracle and set adrift from Aberlday Bay (a bay in East Lothian, Scotland) to die. This carried her to Culross, where she bore a son.

Mother and child were baptised, an anachronism, by Saint Serf, who reared the boy in his monastery, under the discipline of Saint Servanus. He was so loved that his name, Kentigern (‘chief lord’), was often exchanged for Mungo (‘dear friend’).

Kentigern embarked on a mission to spread Christianity in the region. He is known to have performed many miracles during his lifetime, including taming a wild boar, and restoring a woman to life after she was murdered. He is also credited with performing several healing miracles and with bringing many people to Christian faith.

He founded a monastery at Cathures (Glasgow) and in AD 543 was duly consecrated Bishop of Cumbria. In AD 553 he faced opposition from rulers and clergy within the Kingdom of Strathclyde, which drove him to seek refuge in Wales, where he visited Saint David, and where he founded another monastery and a bishopric, which still bears the name of his disciple Saint Asaph. He also undertook a pilgrimage to Rome. In AD 573 he was recalled by a new king, Rhydderch Hael, and about AD 584 was visited by Saint Columba.

Kentigern established a Christian community along the River Clyde, which eventually developed into the city of Glasgow. The name “Glasgow” is derived from the Gaelic words “Glas” (meaning “green”) and “Cu” (meaning “dear”), referring to the “dear green place” associated with Saint Mungo.

Kentigern was consecrated as a bishop, and he worked to organize the early Christian church in the region. He appointed disciples to spread the faith and established a monastic community at Hoddam in Dumfriesshire.

Saint Kentigern is belived to have died around 614. His burial place is said to be at the site of the present-day Glasgow Cathedral (his tomb is in the centre of the Lower Choir), which stands as a significant landmark and place of pilgrimage. He is revered as one of the key figures in the spread of Christianity in Scotland.

In his twelfth-century Life he is descbribed as the son of Yvain (Ywaine) and the grandson of Urien. John Major’s chronicle makes him the son of Thametes, the grandson of Lot, and the nephew of Gawain. Scottish tales describe St. Kentigern’s encounters with Lailoken, a Scottish counterpart of Myrddin or Merlin.