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The History of Glasgow
Chapter IV - St. Kentigern's Return from Wales


IN or about the year 573, while Kentigern still remained in Wales, the great battle of Ardderyd or Arthuret was fought between the Pagan and the Christian parties and resulted in the establishment of Rydderch Hael, or the Liberal, as Christian King of Strathclyde. According to Joceline the Christian religion had been almost entirely destroyed in this territory, and the King, having set himself zealously to restore it, and discovering no better plan for accomplishing this object than to recall Kentigern to his first see, messengers were despatched to him earnestly entreating his return. Kentigern, therefore, left St. Asaph's, accompanied by brethren of the monastery to the number of 665, and on their way northward a halt seems to have been made at Hoddam in Dumfriesshire where he fixed his see for a time. It was after Kentigern's return to Glasgow, which, it is supposed, could not have taken place much before 582, that St. Columba with a great company of his disciples from Iona made the visit already referred to. Joceline gives a picturesque narrative of the interview and mentions that on the visitors approaching the place called "Mellindenor," a message was sent forward to announce their arrival, and Kentigern having called together his clergy and people, the two companies came towards each other, amid the singing of spiritual songs; and "when these two godlike men met, they mutually embraced and kissed each other, and having first satiated themselves with the spiritual banquet of divine words, they after that refreshed themselves with bodily food." [St. Kentigern, pp. 91, 106-7; Celtic Scotland, ii. pp. 190-6.]

In a curious chapter headed "How King Roderick conceded to him power over himself and his posterity," Joceline states that the King, with consent and advice of his lords, gave his homage to St. Kentigern, and handed over to him the dominion and princedom over all the kingdoms. "Not in vain," adds Joceline, "but of set purpose had he been called Kentigern, because by the will of the Lord he ought to become the head lord of all; for ` Ken' is caput in Latin, and the Albanic ` tyern 'is interpreted doininus in Latin." [St. Kentigern, p. 94.] It is not improbable that this statement is based on the fact that the twelfth century successors of St. Kentigern were vested in large estates and extensive jurisdictions throughout the Cumbrian territory, all of which were believed to have been bestowed on the bishopric by sovereign authority.

After narrating particulars regarding the death of St. Kentigern, which event is on reasonable grounds supposed to have occurred on 13th January, 603, Joceline concludes his biography with a chapter in which he states that King Rydderch, who died in the same year, had "remained much longer than usual in the royal town which was called Pertnech." The place referred to appears to be Partick, which long after that time became the property of the church by gift of King David I. Both Bishop and King were buried at Glasgow in the church cemetery, where also, "as the inhabitants and countrymen assert, 665 saints rest; [These are understood to be the brethren who accompanied Kentigern when he left the monastery in Wales (Celtic Scotland, ii. p. 260).] and all the great men of that region for a long time have been in the custom of being buried there." [St. Kentigern, p. 118.]

In a previous part of his biographical work Joceline gives an account of a cross "cut by quarriers from a block of stone of wondrous size" and which, resisting all the powers of many men, and the application of machinery, for removal to the cemetery, was at last by miraculous agency rolled there and raised to the place "where it standeth to-day." The cross, it is added, "was very large and never from that time lacked great virtue, seeing that many maniacs and those vexed with unclean spirits are used to be tied, of a Sunday night, to that cross, and in the morning they are found restored, freed and cleansed, though ofttimes they are found dead or at the point of death." [St. Kentigern, p. 110.] Of this large block of stone, hewn into the form of a cross and probably sculptured, there seems to have been left no trace. On account of its reputed possession of supernatural power, leading to such deplorably misguided practices as those just referred to, the cross had little chance of surviving the Reformation if it lasted till that time, and either then or previously it may have been broken up and used as building material. The church and dwellings erected by St. Kentigern and his more immediate followers were probably constructed of wood or of stone of the rudest description, and most of the material would naturally disappear at a comparatively early date. As the result of recent research, it is believed that of the original church or of any buildings which may have replaced it, previous to the twelfth century, no fragment, even of the foundations, now remain.


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