One of Scotland’s most famous churches marks its 200th birthday this week. St Andrew’s Cathedral is the mother church of the Catholic community throughout west central Scotland. The first Mass was celebrated in the Cathedral on December 22, 1816 and 200 years on, the current Archbishop, Philip Tartaglia will offer Mass to mark the anniversary on St Andrew’s Day.
Originally built as “St Andrew’s Chapel” to serve the growing numbers of Highland Catholics coming to Glasgow during the Industrial Revolution, the church was a welcome sight and comforting presence decades later as hundreds of thousands of Irish people disembarked on the banks of the Clyde, fleeing from the Irish Famine.
In 1878 the church was elevated to cathedral status when Pope Leo XIII restored the Scottish hierarchy, naming an Englishman, Charles Eyre, as the first Archbishop of the newly restored Archdiocese of Glasgow.
st_andrews_cathedral_church_glasgow03709s1The Cathedral was successfully restored and the adjoining Cloister Garden built in 2011 under the guidance of Archbishop Mario Conti, and today it is one of Glasgow’s most visited landmarks. It continues to serve as a busy city centre parish with daily confessions and Masses.
In a letter to mark the anniversary Archbishop Philip Tartaglia wrote: “Fittingly for a great Metropolitan Cathedral, St Andrew’s draws its congregations from Glasgow, from Scotland, and from the nations of the world, but, in a typically Glasgow way, still creates a sense of family and community at the liturgies which are celebrated here. I love celebrating Mass in our Cathedral and am very honoured to do so as Archbishop, not least because of the wonderful catholicity and diversity of the people who come to worship in St Andrew’s.”