Last Monday I was interviewed in connection with a short documentary film that was being made on the life of St. Thenew (also known as Thenog or Enoch), the mother of St. Mungo. Our church here at Saint Mungo's has one of the only remaining statues of St Thenew and the film makers were keen to come face to face, as it were, with the statue, in the making of the documentary. As part of my preparation, I read an extract from an archive concerning the Dedication of the High Altar in St. Mungo’s, which took place on the 16th September, 1877. The church itself was dedicated on the 12th September, 1869. As far back as then, on what was at that time a very ornate high altar, this beautiful statue of St. Thenew was high up on the sanctuary alongside other saintly statues filling a number of decorative niches. There is a picture of the high altar in the centenary booklet – The Passionists in Scotland – that was produced back in 1965. Now, of course, post-Vatican II, that High Altar is much simpler. The main aim of this documentary is, as I understand it, to highlight strong women who helped shape the City of Glasgow, and the person who interviewed me is keen on petitioning the City Council to instal some kind of commemorative plaque to St. Thenew in St. Enoch Square, which is named after her. Records from the fifteenth century show that the bones of St Enoch were believed to lie in a chapel, which stood in the midst of a burial ground, which occupied the ground now forming St Enoch Square. There is a modern-day interpretation of St Enoch and her baby, whom she called Kentigern, by Australian street artist Sam Bates (aka Smug) on the corner of High Street and George Street. Later, St. Serf, would give the young Kentigern the pet name of Mungo, which means the Dear One of God.
Later that same day we went out for a celebration meal to mark the platinum jubilee of Father Justinian’s 1st Profession as a Passionist, as mentioned in last week’s log. We were joined by his two brothers and one of his sisters-in-law, and, by a happy coincidence, our Provincial was able to join us, having arrived in Glasgow from London earlier in the day. We went to a local restaurant in Bishopbriggs and had a thoroughly enjoyable time to mark the occasion, and indeed, it was an occasion well worth marking.
The following night we heard of the sad death of Archbishop Emeritus, Mario Conti, after a short illness. I was never stationed in Glasgow during his time as Archbishop, but I know that he had a deep love for St. Mungo’s Church and, in many ways, was the driving force behind the renovations that took place over twenty years ago. Not long after I came here, Archbishop Conti joined us for the Feast of St. Mungo on 13th January 2017. Afterwards, we had some refreshments in the hall, during which he expressed his love for St. Mungo’s, but also, with a wry smile, apologised for leaving us with such a big debt on the church as a result of those renovations, which we are still trying to pay off. However, it was a job well worth doing.
We also heard of the sad death of an American Passionist, Fr. Don Senior CP, who was one of the finest scripture scholars that the Passionists, and indeed the church, ever produced, especially in relation to the New Testament. His speciality was the Gospel of St. Matthew. He was mainly associated with the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and was appointed by Pope St. John Paul II to serve on the church’s Pontifical Biblical Commission. He was also a lovely, humble man, whom I had the privilege of meeting, and listening to, on a number of occasions, and my bookshelves at home, as well as my Kindle, contain a number of his writings, especially on the Passion of Jesus in each of the Gospels. He will be greatly missed. May both of these good men rest in peace.
As always, protect yourselves, your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives.