The High Kirk of Glasgow is the oldest cathedral in Scotland and one of the largest Cathedrals in the country. Standing in east-central Glasgow it is a grand Gothic building that has an imposing position a the top of the Cathedral precinct, but the period in history that it represents is as interesting as the building itself.
Originally built as a Catholic place of worship, Glasgow Cathedral remained intact because of continued use as a Protestant place of worship. Many other Scottish cathedrals which were either destroyed during the Reformation or let to fall into disrepair, .
Led by John Knox, the reformation in 1560 was a turbulent period in history when Catholicism was outlawed. A Protestant congregation was installed at Glasgow Cathedral and has occupied the building for 450 years.
The Reformation was a religious coup and part of a larger plan to oust the Catholic Stuart Monarchy in Scotland. A strong Catholic nation in Great Britain was seen as a threat to the church of England and absolute rule of Monarchy. Despite this, Queen Elizabeth I was seen by most to be moderate, although close to the Protestant church of England and John Knox’s misogyny did not go down well with the English crown.
History was not to favour the plan. In 1603 Elizabeth died without issue, which left England without a monarch. This left James VI of Scotland as heir and he became King during a period referred to as ’The Union of The Crowns’. Despite King James being born Catholic, persecution continued in Scotland and the Catholic faith was practiced in secret until a visit to Scotland by pope Leo XIII 1878 again made the Catholic faith an officially recognised religion.
Many universities in the Uk were founded by the church and early teachings were deeply religious and Glasgow Cathedral was no different. Bishop William Turnbul was the first Chancellor of the university and instrumental in its establishment in 1451. In 1460 the University moved out of the Cathedral to dedicated buildings nearby.
St Mungo, Patron Saint of Glasgow is buried in the lower Kirk and his tomb is on display for visitors to see. Above, the choir is still used for worship. The intricate wood carvings and beautiful stained glass windows make Glasgow Cathedral well worth the visit.