Glasgow – St Asaph

On the weekend of 28 September – 1 October, the St.Mungo Singers followed in the footsteps of their patron saint in this, the 1400th anniversary of his death. Over 40 choir members with family and friends travelled by bus toNorth Wales to visit St. Mungo’s foundation at St. Asaph and other Celtic shrines.

Chester Cathedral Cloisters

Their base for the visit was the lovely seaside town of Llandudno. They spent Saturday in Chester, enjoying the sun, the history and the shopping, before heading to St.Asaph to meet the Bishop of St. Asaph, Bishop Gregor Cameron, who had visited Glasgow in January of this year to give the homily at the ecumenical St.Mungo service in Glasgow Cathedral.

St.Asaph’s Cathedral was hosting the BBC and the North Wales International Music Festival that week but the St. Mungo Singers were able to join the Cathedral community for an Evening Service in the beautiful Cathedral. They were warmly welcomed by Bishop Cameron and the Dean of the Cathedral Nigel Williams, and John Owen Roberts, the Mayor of St. Asaph. They expressed their pleasure that the choir had come down to further cement the links between the cities St Asaph was consecrated by St Mungo to be abbot of the Church at Llanelwy when St. Mungo was called to return to Glasgow by Rydderch King of Strathclyde.

Mayor Roberts, Bishop Cameron & Mgr. Gerry after Vespers

The St.Mungo Singers had brought letters of greeting from our Lord Provost Cllr Sadie Docherty and from Archbishop Tartaglia to Bishop Cameron, and Catherine McMaster – the former Baillie of Glasgow City Council who had done so much to develop the St. Mungo Festival in Glasgow and the St. Mungo Trail – had brought from the City Council a copy of the Russian Icon of St.Mungo as a gift for the Cathedral and also a gift to St. Asaph City Council. We hope that the renewed contact between the two cities will grow in strength.

In return, Bishop Cameron gave the choir a gift for Archbishop Tartaglia and the Mayor presented Mrs. McMaster with a plaque of the St.Asaph Coat of Arms and a set of the coins produced for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee for Glasgow City Council.

On Sunday, the choir did some sightseeing in the rain. The intention had been to visit Betws-y-Coed and Llanberis. Betws was great, despite the weather but Llanberis was literally a wash-out. An attempt to visit Bangor proved equally difficult and so the driver did the sensible thing and go back to Llandudno for lunch before heading to the ancient shrine of St. Winefride at Holywell (the Lourdes of Wales) for Mass.

A guide explains the history of St Winefride’s Well

The Singers were welcomed by the local community who joined in enthusiastically with the music of theMass.There was also an opportunity to be blessed with a relic of St. Winefride. After Mass, the choir were shown round the shrine, which has been a pilgrimage centre for centuries, and given a brief history of its development.

On Monday, as they made their way home, the Singers made their final visit – to the Franciscan Friary and Padre Pio Centre at Pantasaph where again they received a warm welcome for Mass, this time from Fr. Louis Maggiore, a Geordie friar with an Italian ancestry! In contrast with St.Asaph and Holywell, both honouring saints from the earliest days of Christianity in our islands, this shrine and retreat centre honours a saint from our own times.

The Mass, followed by tea in the Friary hall, was a lovely and fitting finish to the weekend. The consensus as we returned to Glasgow was that the trip had only been a taster and encouragement to come back toWales to learn more about the Celtic Christian history of Wales.

The choir with Fr. Louis at Pantasaph