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Catholic archbishop of Glasgow dies suddenly at age 70

Philip_Tartaglia1.png Archbishop Philip Tartaglia gives a blessing at a commemoration of the founding fathers of Celtic F.C. at St Peter’s Cemetery, Dalbeth, Glasgow, Nov. 2, 2013. Credit: PaulVIF (CC BY-SA 3.0).

The Catholic archbishop of Glasgow, Scotland, died suddenly on Wednesday two days after his 70th birthday.  

The Archdiocese of Glasgow announced that Archbishop Philip Tartaglia died at his home on Jan. 13, the feast of St. Mungo, patron saint of Glasgow.

Tartaglia, who had led the archdiocese since 2012, tested positive for COVID-19 after Christmas and was self-isolating. 

The archdiocese said that the cause of his death was currently unclear.

“Please pray for the repose of the soul of Archbishop Philip, for his family and friends and people of the archdiocese,” it said.

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The archdiocese will be run by an administrator until Pope Francis chooses a new archbishop of Glasgow.

Tartaglia was born to a family of Italian heritage in Glasgow on Jan. 11, 1951.

He studied at the national junior seminary at St. Vincent’s College, Langbank, and later at St. Mary’s College, Blairs, Aberdeen. 

He completed his ecclesiastical studies at the Pontifical Scots College and Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

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He was ordained to the priesthood on June 30, 1975, by the then Archbishop Thomas Winning, archbishop of Glasgow from 1974 to 2001.

After his ordination, Tartaglia returned to Rome to work on a doctorate in Sacred Theology.

After completing his doctorate, he served in parishes and as a lecturer. From 1987 to 1993, he was rector of Chesters College, Bearsden.

In 2004, he was appointed rector of the Pontifical Scots College. A year later, Pope Benedict XVI named him Bishop of Paisley. He was ordained bishop on Nov. 20, 2005, by Archbishop Mario Conti.

He took the mottoDa robur, fer auxilium” (“Thine aid supply, thy strength bestow”), from St. Thomas Aquinas’ Eucharistic hymn “O Salutaris Hostia.”

Benedict XVI named Tartaglia archbishop of Glasgow on July 24, 2012. He succeeded Conti, who led the archdiocese from 2002 to 2012.

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Tartaglia was installed at St Andrew’s Cathedral, Glasgow, on Sept. 8, 2012, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

He spoke out last year about forced evictions of refugees and asylum seekers in Glasgow, describing them as  “regrettable and harsh.”

“I appeal to you not to make refugees and asylum seekers homeless, but to provide for them decent accommodation in accordance with their human dignity and human rights,” he wrote to the U.K.’s Home Secretary.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster and president of the English and Welsh bishops’ conference, said: “I have learned with great sadness of the sudden death of Archbishop Philip Tartaglia. All of Scotland will be saddened and shocked by his death, sentiments shared throughout England and Wales, too. He and his family are much in our prayers.”

“I have often enjoyed the warm hospitality of Archbishop Tartaglia and admired his pastoral sense and sharp mind. His leadership will be greatly missed.”

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Celtic F.C., a soccer team founded in Glasgow in 1887, paid tribute to the archbishop on its official Twitter account.

“We are saddened to hear of the death of Archbishop Philip Tartaglia who was a huge supporter of the club and regularly attended matches at Celtic Park,” the club said.

“Everyone at Celtic offers their sincere condolences to Philip’s family and Scotland’s Catholic community at this sad time.”

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