Archbishop Mario Conti delivered the following lecture about the city’s cathedrals
in Glasgow City Chambers, on 12 January 2012, the Vigil of the Feast of St Mungo. (Click here to read the lecture on a single webpage.)
I have been honoured by being invited to give the first in what is intended to become a series of lectures on the eve of St Mungo’s Feast. The series is to carry the name: ‘The Molendinar Lectures’. The Molendinar, of course, as every Glaswegian knows, or ought to know, is the stream or burn, now for the most part culverted, on the north west grassy banks of which a Christian settlement was established before the sixth century, having the typical topography of an ecclesiastical site – a hillock by running water. This burn continues to make its hidden journey into the Clyde by Glasgow Green.
I have entitled this lecture, put together at rather short notice, as the ‘Tale of two Cathedrals’. What I have to offer is a pot-pourri of information which has this Christian settlement, particularly the Church that for more than 700 years is built upon it, as a sort of visual aid. Of course I don’t need to illustrate it here with an overhead projector, since St Mungo’s Cathedral is well known to all of us and is one of the great ornaments of our city.
I may tease you with the mention of a second Cathedral and you wouldn’t have to try terribly hard to guess that it is St Andrew’s on the Clyde, because I don’t want to limit myself to an architectural or historical survey of one building only, but rather to broaden my canvas so that theological and sociological colours merge even into etymological ones, and all can be added to this pot-pourri to give it the sort of description that so often one finds on a bottle of wine with reference to taste. Though with a pot-pourri my metaphor has to do with the nose and not the tongue! Mind you etymology would suggest that the tongue is likely to be the instrument more interested than the nose in what I have to say!
Of course, I am teasing you, and I will tease you further by saying that really my title should be: “Two Cathedrals and one Church” – though not three buildings; the bright ones among you will already have got my meaning even before I look at the etymology of these words.
Let me come to the point: The word “church,” is from old English. It has its etymological root in the Greek word “kyrios” which means Lord. We are familiar of course with that word from the Kyrie Eleison which survived even within the Latin Mass, when, not for the last time, the Church, taking into account the language of the people, changed its liturgical tongue in this case from Greek to Latin. Our word “church” survives from the Greek “kuriakon” the Lord’s House, rather as the Italian word “duomo” survives from the Latin “Domus Dei,” the House of God.