Due to the coronavirus pandemic the Archbishop Tartaglia Tribute edition of Flourish is currently available in digital form only. You can read selected stories online on this page or download a PDF of the whole paper. A printed souvenir edition will be available when churches are open again.

Remembering our good shepherd


“The timber of this man was sound. It was sound all through…”

Bishop Gilbert’s eulogy at the Archbishop‘s funeral
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Archbishop Mario’s tribute to Archbishop Philip

I had just finished celebrating Mass for the Feast Day of our Archdiocesan Patron and the founder of our city, St. Mungo, during which I had prayed for our clergy, religious and faithful, and had paused in the words of the Eucharistic prayer at the invocation for “our Bishop Philip”…
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Glasgow remembers its ‘own’ Archbishop

Public figures send condolences
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“The timber of this man was sound. It was sound all through. At a time when hollowness or rottenness seem to surface with disheartening regularity, this was a comfort. I think we felt this soundness and relied on it more than we knew…”


“Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day.”

Bishop Gilbert remembers the Archbishop

There are so many settings in which to have known Archbishop Philip: as a member of his family, or in his school and student days, in Rome, in the seminaries and parishes he served, as Bishop of Paisley and Archbishop of Glasgow. There were the many circles he moved in: of ecumenical dialogue, Catholic education about which he was so engaged and realistic, the civic life of Glasgow, not forgetting its sport. So many people touched by him, so many aspects to a life, so many perspectives to view it from. Three score years and ten. Our memories are fragments of a greater whole, and that whole – the mystery of a person - is in the mind and hands of God. “On the earth the broken arcs, in the heaven a perfect round.”

Today, in Christ, we remember Philip’s life, we give thanks for it and we pray for its completion and the comfort of the bereaved. We bring him and ourselves before God in a literal and metaphorical great Eucharistic prayer of hope and affection.


The image that comes to me is of a great tree felled unexpectedly in the middle of the night – Storm Covid. And only when we woke up the day following did we begin to divine what had happened, did we begin to grasp the depths of its roots, to see the space this tree occupied, the shelter it gave, and what we’ve personally and collectively lost. This uprooting has changed the landscapes of so many lives. “Tree” seems right. The timber of this man was sound. It was sound all through. At a time when hollowness or rottenness seem to surface with disheartening regularity, this was a comfort. I think we felt this soundness and relied on it more than we knew.


Eulogy is no part of a liturgy. It’s the last thing Philip would have wanted; he was not a self-advertising man. It’s not what we want; we are probably still too numb. But the prohibition of eulogy doesn’t mean we have to talk abstractions. Surely we can acclaim the providence of God, the presence of Christ and the action of the Holy Spirit within him, from his birth seventy years ago to his committal today, from his baptism to this Eucharist, from the pouring of that first water to the final sprinkling of his remains. There seems a rare wholeness here. Surely we can acknowledge how the grace of his baptism and of his ordination grew and flowered in him, how the Lord was indeed his shepherd and through him shepherded others, how his priesthood became a true spiritual fatherhood which has left its trace on all of us.

Looking at it from our side, we are commending to God today someone who wasn’t small in any sense, someone of gravitas, and someone in whom head and heart came together, possessed of intellectual force and clarity and at the same time of great human warmth. There have been so many testimonies to this (and my thanks to all who have sent condolences). He might have passed his life in the green pastures of dogmatic theology, by the restful waters of seminary teaching (if they exist) or of promising ecumenical dialogue, but he accepted pastoral assignments and he cherished them. He had a gift for friendship and insight into people. During our Ad Limina visit with the Pope in 2018 he said to the Holy Father, “I miss the parish”, and got a delighted papal thumbs-up. As a pastor, especially here in Glasgow and for a while in Edinburgh too, he had plenty of valleys of darkness to walk through, with others, with unsettled priests, survivors of abuse, victims of accidents, and he did so in such a genuine, heartfelt way. The bin lorry episode, the helicopter on the roof, his concern for asylum seekers. A lady from my own diocese whose father died in the James Watt Street fire of 1968 sent me this: “I have happy memories of the Archbishop when he so kindly agreed to celebrate Mass for my dad and the many others that died in James Watt Street. It was said exactly fifty years later, it was beautiful and he spoke with gentleness and love. I felt truly humbled when he talked about my life during the homily. Somehow his love and understanding took away so much of my pain.  I will always be grateful.” “He wept with those who wept”. Like the Psalmist, at times he also had his own “drooping spirit” to walk with. He was actually a shy and sensitive man. He felt pressures and there were certainly more than he voiced. He took things to heart, literally, and we know with what consequences. We need to be more careful of each other’s hearts.


For myself, I only came to know Bishop / Archbishop Philip after becoming bishop myself in 2011. But I had already encountered him during the papal visit the year before, at the Mass at Bellahouston. Bishops and Abbots were waiting in a tent. He went out to look at the singing crowds, full of young people, and he came back with his face flushed, crying, “The faith is alive! The faith is alive!” This wasn’t a tired, box-ticking cleric; he seemed an almost childlike enthusiast.

So the memories remain: voicing our apology for child abuse in this Cathedral, preaching to seminarians in the crypt of St Peter’s, urging them in his halting, straight from the heart way, to put Christ at the centre of their lives, everywhere and always, and find their integrity in him; responding explosively to a paper put before him at a bishop’s meeting, “Where’s Christ in this?”, or after a glass or two of wine at a late Spanish dinner in Salamanca launching into the intricacies of 16th-century Eucharistic theology.

How good, how consoling, that he should go to God on the solemnity of St Kentigern.

I have to say I feel his eye on me as I speak. It’s a little unnerving. “Get it right, Hugh, get it right”. This tree had a root: the deep Catholic Christian faith he had received from his family. And through that faith flowed the sacramental sap that nourished and greened his life. It wasn’t hard to choose the readings: the Eucharistic climax of the discourse from John chapter 6, Isaiah’s vision of the banquet on the mountain-top, the Psalm that ends with the feast in the Temple, when the Lord as an accompanying shepherd becomes at the end a welcoming host, precisely the future we wish for Philip.

Here was the heart of the man. Here, along with his family, were the loves that moved him: the Gospel of John, the person of Christ, God and man, born of the Virgin (he loved our Lady), risen from the dead and the same Lord’s real, substantial and permanent presence under the appearances of bread and wine, the food of our soul and the pledge of our resurrection. These are the things that held him together, made him a whole, and gave him the holding power he had. It’s for believing and confessing and preaching these things he would want to be remembered: floreat praeconio verbi.


It’s on this basis he would want his beloved archdiocese and the Church in Scotland to move forward. He could say, in dark moments, “do we still believe in the Eucharist?” He could also say, “I find people are fascinated if you speak to them of Christ.”

“On this mountain he will remove the mourning veil covering all peoples, and the shroud enwrapping all nations; he will destroy death for ever. The Lord will wipe away the tears from every cheek.” So the prophet. “Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day.” So the Gospel. “In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.” So the Psalmist. With these words, with this hope, let us comfort one another and go on.

The great tree goes into the earth as a seed, to rest through the winter of time in “the dear green place”, to rest and to be raised incorruptible. Man’s winter, God’s spring.

May he rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.


Archbishop Mario’s tribute to Archbishop Philip


I had just finished celebrating Mass for the Feast Day of our Archdiocesan Patron and the founder of our city, St. Mungo, during which I had prayed for our clergy, religious and faithful, and had paused in the words of the Eucharistic prayer at the invocation for “our Bishop Philip”. I had made up my mind to send him greetings for the feast day, a short message of “Buona Festa”.

Archbishop Conti with Archbishop Tartaglia

I was at the computer preparing that message when the Archdiocesan Chancellor, Mgr Paul Murray, clearly emotionally upset, informed me of Philip’s sudden death. It was a shock which I am sure was shared by all who heard it, and like me, all who heard it were greatly saddened.

The immediate providence which occurred to me was that he had been called by the Lord to Himself on the Feast of St. Mungo, to whom he was the successor, a consolation in that, as I have so often experienced as a priest, it manifested divine favour at the time of the death of a faithful servant: “Come you blessed of my Father…”. We are always in the Lord’s care, but for it to be so evident is a great consolation.

I, and all who recently saw Archbishop Philip on our screens, are left with two powerful images.

The first dates back to the period when there was a temporary lifting of the lockdown which had required the closing of the Cathedral. We saw on the news the Archbishop reopening the great doors of the Lord’s House with a magnificent gesture of evident satisfaction, assisted by a great gust of wind enlarging the action.

Everyone who had followed the streaming of his Masses during that closure period was well aware of his sadness. Not everyone is likely to know that during the last Mass he celebrated with a full congregation, the Mass on St. Joseph’s Feast day, the day of churches closing, he broke down several times, such was his distress at having to close the doors of the Cathedral.

Another moment which sums up the man … on the day he was able to throw open the doors again, after engaging with the photographers who had come to capture the moment, he made his way straight to the Blessed Sacrament Altar to spend some time in prayer there in the presence of the Lord.

Archbishop Philip’s devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, was demonstrated by his choice of the Holy Eucharist as the subject of his doctorate at the Gregorian University in Rome following his earlier studies in Philosophy and Theology, as a student of the Pontifical Scots College, which he subsequently served as Dean of Studies, and later still as Rector.

His episcopal coat of arms bears the symbols of the Eucharist, the five loaves and two fishes, to which St. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, brought the attention of Jesus, who blessed them and by them fed the 5000, thereby prefiguring the institution of the Mass at the Last Supper.

Philip’s motto came from the Benediction hymn, O Salutaris Hostia: “Da Robur fer Auxilium” (Give Strength; provide Support). He needed both in an episcopate which included the tragedy of the helicopter crash on the nearby Clutha Bar, and the Covid pandemic, to the victims of which he gave his own strong support.

The second powerful image which fills my mind is of the blessing given by Archbishop Philip from St. Andrew’s Cathedral, incorporated into the online Ecumenical and Civic Service marking the Feast of St. Mungo.

Archbishop Philip had, over the years of his episcopate in Glasgow, faithfully attended this service which brings together representatives of the Christian communities in the City, and the City Council and its institutions, led by the Lord Provost, who, at its conclusion, lays a wreath on the tomb of St. Mungo in the Lower Church. It struck me at the time how beautifully the Archbishop had given the blessing to the participants and to the City, and how appropriate it was … an image now to be treasured.

The appropriateness was enhanced by its coming from the seat of the Archbishop, successor of St. Mungo, in the Cathedral which faces the Clyde into which the Molendinar Burn, beside which St. Kentigern (Mungo) established his seat as the first Bishop of Strathclyde, now secretly empties its waters.

Archbishop Philip loved celebrating Mass in the Cathedral, returning to a practice which had been more regular in times past. I made a habit of joining him on major occasions and he always welcomed me warmly. In this way I could signify my support for him and benefit from his homilies, which were inevitably of sound doctrine, a characteristic of him in his years of teaching students for the priesthood, and preaching to the faithful in the parishes he served, not least as parish priest of St. Mary’s Duntocher which he loved and from which in 2005 to took up his obedient appointment as Rector of the Scots College in Rome.

The following year he was appointed Bishop of Paisley and I had the privilege of ordaining him in St Mirin’s Cathedral.

It seemed to me that he filled the office of Archbishop of Glasgow with the same sense of dedication and possession that he gave to his parish, and on the many Sundays on which he preached during the lockdown it was as a parish priest reaching out to his extended parish and sharing his people’s concerns, offering words of consolation and encouragement.

He loved the Church, and suffered with its tribulations of recent years, leading his fellow bishops in addressing them as President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland.

He loved the City of Glasgow and the east end of the city where he grew up in a large family where his parents had established their business, typical at that time of an immigrant Italian Family. No one ever mentions his parents without saying how lovely they were and how hospitable. They were proud to have two sons ordained as priests. To the surviving members of his family the Catholics of Glasgow reach out in gratitude, solidarity and prayer.

Perhaps only third to the love of his family and of the city of Glasgow was his love of Celtic Football Club. I don’t recall ever seeing him so animated and so much enjoying himself as at a dinner in the Hospitality Suite of Celtic Park on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Knights of St. Columba, founded in this very city.

When I hear reference to “The Glasgow Boys” I think of the distinguished painters of the Glasgow School of Art and their followers. I think Philip thought rather of the distinguished players of his football team, and of the Lisbon Lions! (We all have our idiosyncrasies, though I don’t think zealous support of Celtic is regarded as idiosyncratic in the Catholic communities of the West of Scotland, quite the contrary!)

And football was not only a wholesome diversion from the hard work of administering a large Archdiocese; it was a natural choice for him – faith, family and football was the culture in which he had been brought up, and which he loved.

The first Preface of the Mass for the Apostles addresses thanks to the Lord … “For you, eternal Shepherd do not desert your flock, but through the blessed Apostles watch over it and protect it always, so that it may be governed by those you have appointed shepherds to lead it in the name of your Son”.

Shepherds come in all shapes and sizes with different gifts of nature and grace. At a time of unprecedented moral confusion in society with conflicting political ideals and ideological novelties and in the midst of a pandemic, we were given a shepherd who fulfilled St. Paul’s injunction to Timothy (2 Tim, 4, 1-5), - remarkably the reading of the feast day Mass for the day of his passing from this life to eternity:

“Proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome insist on it…The time is sure to come when, far from being content with sound teaching, people will be avid for the latest novelty, and then, instead of listening to the truth, they will turn to myths. Be careful always to choose the right course; be brave under trials; make the preaching of the Good News your life’s work, in thoroughgoing service”.

Such was the life of Archbishop Philip. Such is the Providence of God.

Requiescat in pace.


Glasgow remembers its ‘own’ Archbishop

I am writing to express my condolences at the unexpected news of the death of The Most Rev Philip Tartaglia, Archbishop of Glasgow.

Archbishop Tartaglia

His Excellency received me very kindly when I visited Glasgow before taking up my posting to the Holy See in 2016, and I will always remember him with affection. I also had enjoyed his company during the last Ad Limina visit.

I know that in his long service to the Church he carried out many important roles with distinction, and that he will be much missed. Please pass my condolences to the Bishops’ Conference, and please convey my sorrow that Archbishop Philip is no longer with us.

Sally Axworth

British Ambassador to the Holy See

Truly saddened by the news of Archbishop Tartaglia’s sudden passing I would like to express my personal condolences and those of all the staff at the Italian Consulate General in Edinburgh, to the Archdiocese and the Catholic community in Glasgow. May his soul rest in peace with the Lord.

Fabio Monaco

Consul General of Italy

Myself and all my colleagues at the French consulate in Edinburgh are very saddened by the news that broke this Wednesday about Archbishop Tartaglia’s passing. I had the honour of meeting His Grace a few months after my arrival in 2019 with my colleagues from the Consulate and from the French Embassy in London and I remember vividly His Grace’s kindness, intelligence and humanity.

As you know, there is a large French community in Glasgow and I know some of its members were familiar with Archbishop Tartaglia and your Parish. The whole French community in Scotland was touched and thankful for the solidarity shown by Mgr Tartaglia in January 2015, after France was the victim of terrible attacks in Paris. Mgr Tartaglia has remained a great support for us since then and as a representative of the French government in Scotland, I am grateful and will not forget.

On behalf of the French community, allow me to express our deepest condolences to you all and to His Grace’s relatives ; the whole Catholic community is mourning.

Laurence PAÏS

Consul General of France

How saddened I was by this unexpected bad news. After the Paris terror attacks in January 2015, Archbishop Tartaglia celebrated a Mass for the French community, and for French people everywhere, which I attended as Honorary Consul (I retired from that role in 2018). The Archbishop’s solidarity and humanity touched us greatly. Please allow me therefore to record my lasting gratitude, and that of the French community in Glasgow. He was a good man, and we will miss him.

Requiescat in pace.

John Campbell

Emeritus Professor of French – University of Glasgow, Former Hon Consul of France

The death of Archbishop Philip is a true loss for the city, for Scotland and for the Church, and I was deeply saddened to hear the news of his passing.

The University of Glasgow’s relationship with the Archbishopric goes back to our very foundation – and in all the centuries that have passed since, our University community could have had no greater friend or advocate than Archbishop Philip.

On a personal level, I will miss his friendship deeply, but his loss will be felt far beyond those who were lucky enough to call him a friend. The whole of the Catholic community in Scotland and beyond will mourn his passing, and I offer my sincere condolences to his family.

Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli

Principal of the University of Glasgow

It is with great sadness that I learned of the death of Archbishop Philip Tartaglia. On behalf of the entire University of Strathclyde community, I would like to express our sincere condolences to the Archdiocese, to Philip’s family, and to his many friends.

As one of Glasgow’s best-known sons, his loss will be felt acutely by both the Church and our wider community. He will be remembered fondly for his social conscience, his leadership, and his bright and inquiring academic mind.

We are thinking of you all at this difficult time.

Professor Sir Jim McDonald

Principal of the University of Strathclyde

I write on behalf of all the schools in Glasgow, but particularly our Catholic schools, to express our deepest condolences on the passing of Archbishop Philip.

You would expect all Archbishops to be committed to children’s education but Archbishop Philip was more than just committed to our children. He showed warmth, caring and love when he was with them. He was exceptionally generous with his time celebrating mass with children, staff and families many times a year all across the city. Young people in secondary schools spoke so positively of his masses as he reached out to encourage them to follow the words of the Gospel. He has left us with lots of lovely memories.

On a personal note, I always enjoyed our meetings where we debated issues affecting education and the challenges facing Catholic education in modern society. We should not forget also that he was a much loved brother and uncle. I hope that knowing how much people cared for him across the Archdiocese will bring his family some comfort at this sad time.

As administrator of the Archdiocese, you have a challenging role ahead. Please be assured of our ongoing support in these difficult times.

Maureen McKenna

Executive Director of Education, Glasgow City Council

I was so sad on hearing of the passing of Archbishop Tartaglia, it was a great shock to the people of Glasgow, especially the Catholic community. He was a proud Glaswegian who loved the fact he had Italian blood running through his veins.

I really only got to know Phillip over the last nine years, I worked with him on a few projects, if we got together to discuss the Caritas Awards or the publication of Flourish the first fifteen minutes of any meetings would be consumed by talking about his beloved Glasgow Celtic, his knowledge on the history of the club would leave me mesmerised.

He was a joy to work with, although soft spoken he had a steely determination to get things done, I am sure as a young man growing up in the East End he never dreamed of one day becoming the shepherd to the flock of the Roman Catholic community in the city he loved so much, I was honoured to be asked to work with him, he will be sadly missed.

It was a great shame that we never got the opportunity to show our appreciation at his funeral service, I am sure thousands of people would have loved to have been there.

I will say goodbye in a way I know he would appreciate, YNWA.

Lord (Willie) Haughey

City Facilities Management