Archdiocese of Glasgow, Scotland


David Livingstone, the greatest African explorer, always told the story that he only escaped from the dye works at Blantyre because a Catholic priest taught him Latin. This enabled him to qualify for medicine at Glasgow University. The priest was Daniel Gallagher, an Irishman who, after studies in Rome, held the first Roman Catholic services in the West End of Glasgow in 1855. He opened this little church in Partick Bridge St in 1858 calling it St Peter’s. It is the third oldest Catholic church in Glasgow (after the Cathedral and St Mary’s in the East End).

By the turn of the century the church proved too small for the dockers and their families and in 1903 a new St Peter’s was opened in Hyndland St. The Partick Bridge St building served as an extension (known as the Bridge St Chapel)  until the Second World War when soldiers of the Polish Armed Forces who had escaped the Nazis and who were based in Yorkhill Barracks needed a church. Since then the building has also been known as the Polish Church. It was the focus of the Polish community in exile and still today the Saturday Vigil (6 pm) and Sunday (noon) Mass are said in Polish by a Polish priest from the chaplaincy in the Polish Club in Kelvingrove.  There is also Mass in Polish in St Peter’s on Sundays at 3 pm.

In 1945 with the increase in the city’s population the Archdiocese decided to create a separate parish for the Yorkhill side of Dumbarton Road and the church became St Simon’s, the original name of the Apostle Peter. Since then the older housing has been comprehensively demolished but the church was refurbished by Fr Patrick Tierney who was a church historian who had been brought up himself in the area. Now with new housing  from the church’s front door through to Glasgow Harbour St Simon’s looks forward both to preserving its heritage and to welcoming the new residents.  The church was completely restored 2005 – 2008 for its 150th anniversary with the help of a grant of £200 000 from Historic Scotland which was matched by fundraising by the congregation.  in 2013 the Parish Council installed stained glass vignettes of Simon Peter by Lorraine Lamond.  For the Year of Faith a plaque was erected beside the pulpit with the names of those who worshipped in St Simon’s 2012 – 2013.

In 2007 the parish priest of St Simon’s became also the parish priest of St Peter’s, thus restoring the situation of 1903 – 1945.  The main reason was that the Polish workers who had flooded into Glasgow after 2004 proved too many for the little church and provision for Mass had to made for them in the larger church in Hyndland St.  This was the reason, of course, when most of the immigrants were Irish, that the new St Peter’s had been built.

However in 2011 St Anne’s is Dennistoun was allocated for the use of the new Poles with Fr Wojciech Swiatkowski and parish priest.  Fr Slavin then returned to St Simon’s with Fr John McGrorry becoming parish priest of St Peter’s.

For the Year of Faith a plaque was placed adjacent to the pulpit with the names of worshippers.  At Easter 2013 the Parish Council installed new stained glass by Lorraine Lamond which depicts 4 vignettes of our patron Simon Peter.

Why Simon?  The nickname of Andrew’s brother, Simon,  was in Hebrew Cephas which was translated into Greek as pietra and Latin as Peter.  In the Gospels he is sometimes called Simon Peter.  St Peter’s was a natural choice for the first church in the West End of Glasgow when he opened it in 1858.  When it moved to Hyndland St the name went to the new church since it was expected the old church would become a hall.   It was referred to as Old St Peter’s.  When it reopened as a parish in 1946 not surprisingly it was given the name Simon.  So in reverse of the Apostle our church’s orighinal name was Peter.  Later it became Simon!

In front of church there is a Memorial Stone in Polish which translates:

During the second World War Polish soldiers on leave from the battlefields came to this church to attend Mass together to hear the word of God in their native tongue, to sing their Polish hymns, and to thank Our Lady, Queen of Poland, for this touch of home the Polish community of Glasgow has. Through the years they felt deeply grateful to Father Patrick Tierney for the privilege he has accorded them of celebrating the Polish Mass in this Church and for the many kindnesses received from him and the parishioners.

and in English:  “I was a stranger and you took me in”  Matthew 25:35

VII Niedziela Wielkanocna 31 Maja 1992 DLA Upamietnienia X Rocznicy Kiedy W TYM Miescie BYL Jan Pawel II