In the 12th century Bishop Jocelyn of Glasgow invited Jocelyn, a monk of Furness in northern England, to write a proper life of St Mungo, or Kentigern, since the sources for a life of the saint were in some disarray!

Archbishop Mario Conti, Dr Whitley and some of the St Mungo Singers at the ‘Vita Kentigerni’ celebration in the Mitchell Library on 12th January 2008. Photograph © Margaret St John.

Archbishop Mario Conti, Dr Whitley and some of the St Mungo Singers at the ‘Vita Kentigerni’ celebration in the Mitchell Library on 12th January 2008. Photograph © Margaret St John.

In 2008 the City of Glasgow was able to present a facsimile copy of this Vita Kentigerni (courtesy of the City of Dublin) to the Mitchell Library, the University of Glasgow, the Archdiocese of Glasgow and Glasgow Cathedral. The book was available to the public in the Mitchell Library on the Saturday nearest the traditional feast day of St Mungo, 13th January.

As well as excerpts from the Life (read in the original Latin by Archbishop Conti and in the new English translation by Dr. Laurence Whitley, the Minister of Glasgow Cathedral), there was appropriate music in the form of the plainchant versicle and doxology from the Office of St. Kentigern and the Glasgow anthem Let Glasgow Flourish, sung by a group of the St. Mungo Singers.

This may have a very unusual style of presentation for the Mitchell and its users but they took part with enthusiasm and the City are to be congratulated on a well-organised and enjoyable event.

Copies of the Life have also been given to Glasgow Cathedral and the Archdiocese. During the ceremony in the Mitchell the hope was expressed that that this would become an annual event.