Inside Glasgow Cathedral
Having written at length about the Glasgow Cathedral yesterday, I now take you inside for a whirlwind tour. As you walk through visitor entrance of the cathedral on the south side of the building, you enter the Nave, the single largest section of the cathedral. The main doors to the Nave are to the west, but are only open for weddings and other ceremonial events at the cathedral. The timber roof 32 metres (105 feet) above you is of late medieval design and much of the timber may date from the fourteenth century. The cathedral has a magnificent collection of post-war stained glass windows, many with the badges of the twelve Scottish regiments that fought in World War II. The large window on the western front illustrates the creation. Originally this large open area was much larger, but after the Reformation a wall was put across the nave to allow the western portion of the nave to be used for worship by another congregation.
At the east end of the cathedral is the Quire, the centre of the religious worship at Glasgow Cathedral. The above photo is of the cross behind the altar in this section of the cathedral. I’ve previously featured the University of Glasgow coat of arms from which I found on one of the benches in the Quire. Directly below the Quire is the Lower Church, accessible via a flight of stairs on both sides of the cathedral from between the Nave and the Quire.
The Lower Church, a crypt, was built in the 13th century, although some earlier stonwork can be found. In the north-east corner of the crypt is the ower chapterhouse, the upper one being accessible from the Quire above. The eastern wall is occupied by several smaller chapels. The chapel in the south-east corner of the crypt is occupied by a display of carved stones taken from various areas of the Cathedral. The same chapel contains St Mungo’s well, a source of water for services in the Cathedral. Next to it is the Nurses’ Chapel. At the centre of this lower level is the tomb of St Mungo and some fragments of a 13th century shrine to him, but more on him below.
As you leave the lower level by the souther stairs you will find an extention jutting out of the building to your right. The 15th century Blacader Aisle (also spelled Blackadder Aisle) is named after Robert Blacader, the first Archbishop of Glasgow. This extention to the cathedral is said to occupy the site of the 5th century burial ground consecrated by St Ninian, a century before St Mungo first came to the area.
Glasgow Trivia #27: St Kentigern, more commonly known as St Mungo, is the founder and patron saint of Glasgow, a fact you might be aware of if you’ve ever been to Glasgow. Kentigern (“chief prince”) was born in Culcross in Fife and died on January 13th, 603, and he was buried at the site where Glasgow Cathedral stands today. His pet name Mungo means “dear one”. Instead of recalling his life, I’ll quickly explain his miracles:
- Here is the bird that never flew: St Mungo brought the pet Robin of St Serf back to life.
- Here is the tree that never grew: At St Serf’s monastery he was in charge of the fire, fell asleep and the fire went out. He took some branches of a tree and restarted the fire.
- Here is the bell that never rang: A bell used in services and to mourn the dead was brought by St Mungo from Rome.
- Here is the fish that never swam: St Mungo saved a Queen accused of infidelity from execution by telling the imprisoned Queen’s messenger to catch a fish from the Clyde. Inside the salmon he found the Queen’s ring which had been thrown in the river by the King.
St Mungo is also the patron saint of salmon, people accused of infidelity, and “against bullies” (according to Wikipedia). St Mungo can be found on the Glasgow coat of arms and his miracles are featured on the coat of arms of the University of Glasgow, to name a few places. More on Wikipedia.
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