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Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Glasgow

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Title: Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Glasgow  
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Subject: Roman Catholic Diocese of Paisley, Donald Mackintosh (bishop), Roman Catholic Diocese of Motherwell, Roman Catholic Diocese of Argyll and the Isles, Roman Catholic Diocese of Aberdeen
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Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Glasgow

Archdiocese of Glasgow
Archidioecesis Glasguensis
Country Scotland
Territory Most of the city of Glasgow and the council areas of East and West Dunbartonshire, plus small parts of the council areas of Argyll and Bute, Stirling, North and South Lanarkshire
Ecclesiastical province Glasgow
Metropolitan Glasgow
Area 1,165 km2 (450 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2013)
196,200 (23.7%)
Parishes 93
Denomination Roman Catholic
Rite Roman Rite
Established 4 March 1878
Cathedral St Andrew's Cathedral, Glasgow
Secular priests 186
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Archbishop Philip Tartaglia
Vicar General Mgr Paul Conroy
Emeritus Bishops Mario Joseph Conti

The Archdiocese of Glasgow (Latin: Archidioecesis Glasguensis) is a diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland. Glasgow first became an archbishopric in 1492, eventually securing the dioceses of Galloway, Argyll and the Isles as suffragans.

The modern Archdiocese of Glasgow was re-established in 1878 and currently consists of 106 parishes served by 228 priests (2003 figures) covering an area of 1,165 square kilometres (450 sq mi) in the West of Scotland. It includes the city of Glasgow and extends to the town of Cumbernauld in the east, northwards to Bearsden, Bishopbriggs and Milngavie and westwards to Dumbarton, Balloch and Garelochhead. The Catholic population of the diocese is 224,344 (28.8%) out of a total population of 779,490 (2003 figures). Since 1947, the Archdiocese of Glasgow has been a Metropolitan Diocese, containing the two suffragan Dioceses of Motherwell and Paisley. The Archbishop of Glasgow is therefore also the Metropolitan of the Province of Glasgow.

Archbishop emeritus Mario Joseph Conti was appointed in 2002 by Pope John Paul II. Upon Conti's resignation in July 2012, having passed the required age of 75, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Philip Tartaglia, the Bishop of Paisley, to succeed him. Tartaglia was installed as archbishop in September 2012.

The seat of the archbishop is St Andrew's Cathedral, Glasgow.


Originally established by David I of Scotland and John, Bishop of Glasgow. The bishopric became one of the largest and wealthiest in the Kingdom of Scotland, bringing wealth and status to the town. Somewhere between 1175 and 1178 this position was strengthened even further when Bishop Jocelin obtained for the episcopal settlement the status of burgh from King William the Lion, allowing the settlement to expand with the benefits of trading monopolies and other legal guarantees. Sometime between 1189 and 1195 this status was supplemented by an annual fair, which survives to this day as the Glasgow Fair.

Until 1560, when practice of the Roman Catholic Faith was suppressed by act of the Parliament of Scotland nearly all the bishops of Glasgow took an active share in the government of the country, whether as chancellors or treasurers of the kingdom or as members of regency during the minority of a sovereign. Robert Wishart (consecrated 1272, died 1316) was conspicuous for his patriotism during the Scottish War of Independence from England, and was the close friend of William Wallace and Robert Bruce. William Turnbull (consecrated 1447, died 1454) obtained in 1450 from Pope Nicholas V the charter of foundation for the University of Glasgow.

On 9 January 1492, Pope Innocent VIII raised the see to metropolitan rank, attaching to it the suffragan dioceses of Argyle, Dunblane, Dunkeld, and Galloway. James Beaton, nephew of the celebrated cardinal of the same surname, was the fourth and last archbishop of the old hierarchy.

In 1560, eight years after his nomination, he was forced to retire to France, where he acted as confidential agent of Mary, Queen of Scots, and later openly as ambassador for James VI, until his death in Paris, 25 April 1603. He carried away with him the diocesan records, "Registrum Vetus Ecclesiae Cathedralis Glasguensis", in handwriting of the 12th and 13th centuries, and "Liber Ruber Ecclesiae Glasguensis", with entries from about 1400 to 1476. These, along with other records, were in 1843 printed in a volume for the Maitland Club under the title: "Registrum Episcopatus Glasguensis: Munimenta Ecclesiae Metropolitanae Glasguensis a sede restauratâ saeculo ineunte XII ad reformatam religionem". A memorial of those times still remains in the old cathedral of St. Mungo, which was begun by Bishop Jocelyn (consecrated 1175, died 1199) and received its last additions from Archbishop Blackader (consecrated 1484, died 1508).

Glasgow did not again become a centre of Roman Catholic life until about the beginning of the 19th century during the process of Catholic Emancipation. The progress of the Industrial Revolution also began to draw to the city and its neighbourhood Roman Catholics from the Scottish Highlands and later, in far greater numbers, from Ireland. The arrival of the Irish necessitated Rev Andrew Scott, the sole Priest in Glasgow to begin the erection of the Catholic Cathedral in Clyde St in 1814 'for his vast Irish flock'.[1]

Before 1795 the majority of the Catholics in Glasgow were from the Highlands. Mass had been celebrated from 1776 onwards by Bishop Hay and Bishop Geddes in a clandestine manner, first in High St, and later at the foot of the Saltmarket. In the 1780s a large colony of MacDonalds of Glengarry, on their way to America were forced to seek shelter from inclement weather, stayed on to work in the Glasgow Mills of the Monteith family. A priest from their native area joined them in 1792. In 1794 many of the MacDonalds left the city to join the regiment of Glengarry Fencibles. In 1795 the remainder of this group along with clan members from Glengarry sailed for America. They were accompanied by their pastor, Father Alexander MacDonald. Later, in the nineteenth century Irish Catholics arrived in greater numbers and had an effect on the city of Glasgow.[2]

In 1827, the Holy See erected the Vicariate Apostolic of the Western District of Scotland. It was headed by a vicar apostolic, who was a consecrated bishop and who held a titular see. On the resignation of Bishop Gray in 1869, Archbishop Charles Petre Eyre was appointed the Apostolic Administrator of the Western District. On the Restoration of the Scottish hierarchy by Pope Leo XIII, 4 March 1878, the district was divided into the Archdiocese of Glasgow, the Diocese of Argyll and the Isles and the Diocese of Galloway. Archbishop Eyre was appointed the first Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow since the Scottish Reformation.

By 1877, a year prior to the institution of the current Roman Catholic archdiocese, Archbishop Charles Eyre could record that in Glasgow city there were nineteen parishes, served by fifty-two priests, and in the county of Dunbarton, five parishes and seven priests.

Lanarkshire, which became Motherwell diocese in 1947-48, had seventeen parishes and twenty-two priests, while Renfrewshire, which became Paisley diocese in 1947–48, had eleven parishes and sixteen priests.

To train clergy, Archbishop Eyre founded St Peter's College at Partickhill in 1874, and also encouraged the opening at Dowanhill in 1894 of Notre Dame teacher-training college. He was also committed to creating new parishes and breaking up over-large ones which he felt 'were almost dioceses in themselves'.

During the episcopate of his successor, Archbishop John Maguire, the Education (Scotland) Act 1918 was passed. Financial difficulties, including the triple burden of salaries, building costs, and rising educational expectations necessitated a settlement.

Maguire supported the War effort of 1914–18. In 1917, soldier-students, among them James Black, the future Bishop of Paisley, went to the front from St Peter's College, and two of the military chaplains from the Archdiocese were killed. Although the seminary never closed during the First World War, at one point it housed only a single student and the rector.

Archbishop emeritus Mario Joseph Conti was appointed in 2002 by Pope John Paul II, and on Tuesday, 24 July 2012, Pope Benedict XVI accepted Conti's resignation and appointed Philip Tartaglia, the bishop of Paisley, to succeed Conti and be formally installed in September 2012.[3]

Past and present ordinaries

The following is a list of the modern Archbishops of Glasgow and its precursor office:[4]

Vicars Apostolic of the Western District
  • Ranald MacDonald (appointed 13 February 1827 – died 20 September 1832)
  • Andrew Scott (succeeded 20 September 1832 – resigned 15 October 1845)
  • John Murdoch (succeeded 15 October 1845 – died 15 December 1865)
  • John Gray (succeeded 15 December 1865 – resigned 4 March 1869)
  • Charles Petre Eyre (appointed Apostolic Administrator 16 April 1869 – elevated Archbishop of Glasgow 15 March 1878)
Archbishops of Glasgow

See also


  1. ^ James Handley (1964), The Irish in Scotland. Page 127.
  2. ^ James Handley (1964). The Irish in Scotland. Page 54.
  3. ^
  4. ^

External links

  • Archdiocese of Glasgow
  • Glasgow Cathedral Precinct - Provides an extensive history of the pre-Reformation diocese.
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