History

Mention is made of a medieval church in Larkhall in a number of old documents, e.g the Charter in which King Robert the Bruce granted the lands of Cadzow and Machan to Walter Fitzgilbert (ancestor of the Hamilton family).

It is referred to as the chapel of Saint Mary of Machan. The Reformation in 1560 brought with it a radical change to the lives of the people. Many church buildings were pillaged and destroyed. Three hundred years were to pass before Catholicism returned to this area.


In 1861, Father John Small officiated at the first baptism and first wedding in Larkhall. The chapel school was built and opened in 1872 to serve the needs of the Catholics of Larkhall.

In 1872 the Catholic community of Blackwood which had been served from Strathaven was then attached to the newly erected mission of Larkhall. The mission territory of the parish was an extensive one, and comprised the villages of Blackwood, Lesmahagow, Draffan, Stonehouse, Auchenheath, Netherburn and Coalburn. In the middle of the 19th century Catholics had begun to appear in the district owing to collieries having been opened. Mass was said occasionally at Draffan, Lesmahagow and other places. Eventually it was decided to make Blackwood the centre for the district, and a handsome church with seating for 200, was built on ground close to the village purchased from the Duke of Hamilton. The opening took place on the 16th December 1880, when Archbishop Maguire preached. In connection with this mission it is interesting to note that formerly at Lesmahagow there stood the abbey of Our Lady and St. Machutus, founded in 1144 by St. David of Scotland, who brought monks from Kelso. The dedication to St. Machutus points to an earlier monastic foundation in the times of the Columban monks; and there are records to prove that here there existed a house of the Culdees. Not a vestige remains of the pre-Reformation buildings, but the site is still known by the name of the Abbey Green.

 

The history of our parish is a very long and proud one, from the medieval churches to the arrival of Irish, Polish, Italian and Lithuanian families in the 19th century. We pray that the fine example of faith which they have passed down to us through the generations will still be alive and well in the many years to come.