FIND THE SAINT Logo

Home     A - Z    Calendar   Puzzles

Patrons    Subscribe to Newsletter

Find The Saint
FIND THE SAINT logo with new yellow subtitle - Be Inspired To Do Good

July 18

St Theneva - July 18

Saint Theneva
Patron Saint of Glasgow, Scotland
(Around 510 – Around 570)

“If she be worthy to live, her God will save her.”

Saint Thenava’s Dad after he set her adrift on a small boat

Saint’s Life Story

Her Early Life  

Thenava (also known as Denw, Tenew, Thanea or Enoch) was born around 510 to King Loth of the Gododdin, after whom Lothian was named. He ruled from the Goddodin capital on Traprain Law. Here, Theneva was probably born and brought up there. Theneva was devoted to the Virgin Mary and prayed to conceive a child as a virgin like Mary. Unfortunately, this proved to be impossible.

Raped and Pregnant

In 528, King Owain of North Rheged, her cousin and suitor, raped her while he was dressed as a woman. He reassured her that she remained a virgin because he “technically” had not been a man when he violated her. She became pregnant, and, confused by the encounter, she asserted her innocence and chastity and refused to name Owain as the offender. Many religious sources would not acknowledge this act as a rape and instead referred to it as an “extramarital encounter.” So, Theneva is known as Scotland’s first recorded rape victim and unmarried mother.

Father Upset and Punished Her

Her father, upset with her out-of-wedlock pregnancy, tied her to a chariot and launched her off the cliffs of Traprain Law, the capital of Gododdin. In this heartless act, her father hoped to end her life and erase the disgrace she had brought upon the family. She landed surprisingly unscathed, a testament to her unwavering faith and the divine intervention at play.

Foster-Father – Saint Serf

As a result, her father, King Loth, thought she was now a witch because she survived. So, then he ordered Theneva to be committed to the sea, saying, “If she be worthy to live, her God will save her.” So, Theneva was cast her adrift on a small coracle [a small boat used in Britain from ancient times and made of a frame (as of wicker) covered usually with hide or tarpaulin] with no oars on the River Forth. She came ashore in Culross, Scotland in Fife. Here, Theneva was taken in and cared for by a holy man named Saint Serf, who would later become the foster-father of her son, Saint Kentigern, whom she gave birth to there.

Raised Her Son – Saint Kertigern

Under the guidance and nurturing of Saint Serf, Theneva’s son Saint Kentigern grew into a pious and devoted servant of God. Theneva’s son was raised in the holy atmosphere of Culross Abbey school. Known for his missionary work and his role in spreading Christianity in Scotland, Kentigern would later become the first Bishop of Scotland and the patron saint of Glasgow. Though Saint Theneva’s story is overshadowed by the remarkable life and impact of her son, her resilience and unwavering faith are no less remarkable. Despite facing immense hardship, she emerged as a symbol of hope, forgiveness, and love.

Her Death

Theneva is thought to have died around 570 most likely in Scotland. Though the details of her later life remain unknown, her legacy remains interwoven with the history of Scotland and the spreading of Christianity within its lands.

Theneva may have accompanied her son to Glasgow. She is remembered in Glasgow in the name of St Enoch’s Square, which stands on the site of a medieval religious church dedicated to St Enoch, one of the alternative names for Saint Thenava. She is viewed as one of the patron saints of Glasgow.

Born :                  Around 510 (unknown exact date) in the British Isles

Died:                   Around 570 (unknown exact date) and most likely in Scotland

Beatified:           Pre-Congregation

Canonized:        Pre-Congregation

Feast Day:         July 18

Patron Saint:    Glasgow, Scotland

Source:

Reflection

Saint Theneva let her prayer and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary give her strength to get through an out-of-wedlock pregnancy (a rape) that disgraced and enraged her father. Her own father who was a King Loth, tied her to a chariot and launched her the cliffs of Traprain Law. But, Saint Theneva survived that act. Then her father, thinking she was a witch, set her adrift on raft floating on a river. Just like through the horrors of Jesus crucificion came his Glorious Resurrection, Saint Theneva went on to raise a son, Kentigern, who would also go on to become a Saint. With faith and prayer, God can make “lemonade out of lemons”.

What unimaginable difficulties are you facing today? Remember that through prayer, any difficulty may actually turn into a blessing that God is directing you on a new path to grow and do His Will.

Prayers

Saint Theneva,

You who were put in a difficult situation with a pregnancy at an early age, inspire us with your faith and devotion.

Through your intercession, may Christ grant us the strength and the love to bury in Him all that was dark and all that was evil in our live through the sacrament of Reconciliation, and may we step forward with ease and light and without the poison of holding on to any darkness.

So now we may face uncertainties with strength of faith to comfort and guide us on our holy journey towards eternal life.

Saint Theneva, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

A Dictionary Of Saintly Women, Volume 1 by Agnes B. C. Dunbar – St. Thennew

Aleteia – Saints who had children out of wedlock

Catholic Online – St. Theneva

Celtic and Old English Saints – St. Theneva of Glasgow, Mother of St. Kentigern Mungo

Undiscovered Scotland – Princess Theneva

Video Link

St Thaney of Glasgow – YouTube (Iona Monastery)