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The History of Glasgow
Chapter XV - Church BuildingóBishop Joceline


THERE is neither any record of the destruction of the church erected by Bishop John nor any reference to new works till Joceline's time, but it is supposed that the earliest portion of the existing fabric was constructed during Ingelram's episcopate. This portion, consisting of a mere fragment, is to be found about twenty feet from the west end of the south aisle of the present Lower Church, and it is apparently part of the east gable of the original south aisle. [Glasgow Cathedral (1901), p. 10. ] It is stated in the Melrose Chronicle that in 1181 "Bishop Joceline enlarged his episcopal residence and magnificently extended the church of St. Kentigern";  [Melrose Chronicle, p. 139.] and Wyntoun repeats the story:

"A thowsand a hundyr foure scor and ane
Fra Jhesu Cryst had manhed tane,
Joce, than Byschape off Glasgw.
Rowmyt the kyrk off Sanct Mongw." [Wyntoun, ii. p. 214.]

On the assumption that the work of John and subsequent bishops still remained entire it has been supposed that Joceline began the erection of a nave as an addition to the already existing choir, but that before the work was far advanced it was interrupted in consequence of the completed portions being destroyed by fire. Contemporary evidence as to the rebuilding which was going on a few years later has been preserved in a charter granted by King William, between 1189 and 1192. At this time the bishop was engaged in restoring the fabric which, as mentioned in the charter, had been " in these our days " consumed by fire. Acting with the cooperation or counsel of the abbots, priors and other clergy in the bishopric, Joceline had constituted a "fraternity" or society for the raising of funds and promotion of the work, and the king, characterizing the church of Glasgow as the mother of many nations, hitherto lowly and narrow, which he now desired to widen, ratified the scheme and took it and all engaged in the work under the royal protection. [Reg. Episc. No. 76.] The new church, which was sufficiently advanced to be dedicated for divine worship on 6th July, 1197, [Ibid. No. 545. "A.D. 1197, Joceline, bishop of Glasgow, dedicated his cathedral church, which he had built anew, upon Sunday, the day before the nones of July, in the 24th year of his episcopate" (Melrose Chronicle; Church Historians of England, vol. iv. pt. i. p. 147). "In 1197 the cathedral, a new building, begun by Bishop Herbert, was consecrated by Jocelin, two other bishops assisting." (Dowden's Bishops, p. 299.) St. Kentigern, p. 308.] probably consisted of no more than the partially completed choir, though the construction of a nave and transepts was also commenced. Much progress, however, does not seem to have been made with the work, either by Joceline himself or by his three immediate successors in the bishopric, and building operations on an extensive scale were not resumed till the time of Bishop William of Bondington, the founder of the existing choir and lower church.

It is generally believed that the chief purpose which Bishop Joceline had in view in getting his namesake, a monk of Furness Abbey, in Lancashire, to compile a biography of St. Kentigern, was the rousing of enthusiasm over Glasgow's patron saint so as to promote the collection of funds for erection of the church which was to be so intimately associated with his name. Monk Joceline was experienced in such work, having already written a life of St. Patrick and biographical narratives of other saints, thus justifying his selection for the purpose which the bishop had in hand. The means adopted by the author for obtaining information have been referred. to in a previous chapter, and reference need only be made here to the terms in which "the least of the poor ones of Christ" speaks of "his most reverend lord and dearest father Joceline, an anointed bishop of the Lord Jesus Christ." Allusion is made to the fame of the bishop's name, the loftiness of his office, the even balance of his judgment, his life which was darkened by no shadow of evil report and his long tried religion, all giving sufficient reason for believing that he was the ornament of the House of the Lord over which he presided, while the first-fruits of the gatherings for the Life of St. Kentigern, then offered to the bishop, were redolent of the glory of himself and the church. [St. Kentigern, p. 29.] But apart from the monk's somewhat high-flown dedication enough is known of Bishop Joceline to mark him out as a man of great ability, and as one who during the twenty-five years of his episcopate was highly successful in promoting the best interests, both temporal and spiritual, of the wide district over which he exercised his authority. Of all his endeavours perhaps that which has been most permanently beneficial was the establishment of a burgh at Glasgow; but the matters which attracted most attention in his own day were probably those connected with ecclesiastical affairs throughout the see, and, most prominent of all, the rebuilding of the cathedral.

In those days it was considered desirable to have repeated assurances of protection from Rome, and Joceline was successful in obtaining, within a period of twelve years and from three successive Popes, a series of Papal Bulls, whereby there were confirmed to the Bishop and his successors all their goods and possessions, whether acquired by gift of the Popes, bounty of the Kings or Princes, offerings of the faithful, or in any other lawful manner. In addition to this general classification there was usually a special enumeration of existing possessions, and in this way Pope Urban, in a bull dated 12th June, 1186, specified "the place itself in which the church was situated," with its pertinents, the Burgh of Glasgow with all its liberties, as granted by King William, and lands named in a list and situated within Glasgow barony, "with all the churches of the said lands, chapels and other pertinents." Next came a list of nineteen churches and seven chapels, situated in different parts of the diocese, with, it is added, all other churches and chapels; and this was followed by a general ratification of lands in Clydesdale, Tweeddale, Teviotdale, Annandale, and above a dozen other districts, along with the teinds payable from the King's "can" in Kyle and Carrick, the eighth of the King's pleas in courts throughout the bishopric, and the tofts and lands in the King's burghs belonging to the church.

Among regulations dealing with diocesan management and ecclesiastical discipline, passed between 1181 and 1187, during the rule of Pope Lucius and that of his successor, Pope Urban, is a declaration that in cases of disputed patronage of benefices the decision of the bishop should be final; and by another provision, the object of which was to secure regularity in the performance of religious services, patrons were not allowed to hold churches in their own hand when they were vacant or to institute parsons therein without authority of the bishop, while bishops had right to appoint to benefices if vacancies were not filled up within three months. Appointments to churches were not to be made till vacancies occurred, and priests' sons occupying churches which their fathers had held before them were liable to removal, except in cases of approved character and long possession. There was also a curious prohibition against Churchmen pledging their benefices for money borrowed from the Jews or other usurers. [Reg. Episc. Nos. 54, 58-65.]

In consequence of a dispute with Pope Alexander III., regarding an appointment to the bishopric of St. Andrews, King William was excommunicated in 1181, and his kingdom laid under an interdict. The Pope died shortly afterwards, and in the Melrose Chronicle of the year 1182 it is related that Bishop Joceline, along with the abbots of Melrose and Kelso, "with many other men of consequence," went to Rome upon the affairs of the king and kingdom, and after accomplishing their mission they returned home, bringing with them, from Pope Lucius to King William, the Golden Rose along with his paternal blessing. [Melrose Chronicle, p. 139.] Peace being thus secured in that quarter William seems to have thereafter kept on good terms with the successive heads of the church, and it is stated that in a letter addressed to him, on 13th March, 1187-8, Pope Clement III. announced that the Scottish Church was taken under the immediate protection of the papal see. [Dunbar's Scottish Kings (1899), p. 80; Dowden's Bishops, pp. 298-9.]


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