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Previous Bishops of Motherwell

Previous Bishops


Photo by Paul McSherry

Since the founding of the Diocese in 1947, 5 Bishops have served the Diocese of Motherwell. Below you will find a biography for each of the previous Bishops of Motherwell.

Bishop Edward Douglas

Bishop of Motherwell 1948 - 1954

Rev. Edward Wilson Douglas, parish priest of St. Anthony’s, Govan, Glasgow, was consecrated first Bishop of Motherwell, by Donald Campbell, Archbishop of Glasgow, at Motherwell, 21st April 1948. Born at Glasgow 26th August 1901, ordained 1st May 1924, he spent fifteen years on the staff of St. Mary’s College, Blairs, before returning to parish work in Glasgow, first at Glenboig and afterwards at Govan.


The establishment of a new diocese and the creation of the institutions through which it functions are demanding tasks. In an episcopate which was to last only six years, Bishop Douglas supervised this reorganisation of Catholic life in Lanarkshire on the new diocesan basis.


Fourteen new parishes were established and two new churches built in older parishes, six new religious orders were introduced, the Cathedral Chapter erected, and deaneries regrouped. Because of continuing ill-health, Bishop Douglas resigned on 9th February 1954 when he was translated to the titular bishopric of Botrys.


He died on 12th June 1967 and was buried in St. Patrick’s cemetery, New Stevenson, Lanarkshire.

Bishop Edward Douglas

Bishop James Scanlan

Bishop of Motherwell 1955 - 1964

Bishop James Donald Scanlan, Bishop of Dunkeld since 1949, was translated to Motherwell, 23rd May 1955. Born in Glasgow 24th January 1899 ordained for Westminster archdiocese 29th June 1929, he was consecrated titular Bishop of Cyme and coadjuctor of Dunked, by William Godfrey, titular archbishop of Cius and apostolic delegate to Great Britain, 20th June 1946, and succeeded to the diocese in 1949.


During his episcopate in Motherwell, thirteen new parishes were established and five new churches built in existing parishes. Bishop Scanlan was translated to Glasgow, 29th January 1964. He died on 25th March 1976, aged 77.

Bishop James Scanlan

Bishop Francis Thomson

Bishop of Motherwell 1965 - 1982

Very Rev. Francis Thomson, rector since 1960 of St. Mary’s College Blairs, was consecrated Bishop of Motherwell, by James Donald Scanlan, Archbishop of Glasgow, at Motherwell, 24th February 1965. 

He was born in Edinburgh, 15th May 1917, posthumously, his father having died two months earlier; his mother’s family were natives of Elgin where they had been received into the church.


A graduate of both Edinburgh and Cambridge Universities, he was ordained priest for the archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, 15th June 1946, and subsequently continued his studies in Rome.


During his episcopate twelve new parishes were established, twenty-five churches built, of which seven were in existing parishes, and three Mass centres opened. Eight religious orders were introduced to the diocese. Diocesan structures were strengthened through the formation of a Pastoral Commission, Lay Council, Marriage Advisory Council, and Common Good Fund. Bishop Thomson took part in the last session of the Second Vatican Council in 1965. represented the Hierarchy at the first Synod of Bishops in Rome in 1967, and was first chairman of the Catholic Press Office in 1968.

Bishop Francis Thomson

Bishop Joseph Devine

Bishop of Motherwell 1983 - 2013

Rev. Joseph Devine became Bishop of Motherwell on the 13th May 1983 having already been ordained an Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Glasgow.

He was born in Glasgow on the 7th August 1937 and attended St Ninian's Primary School Kirkintilloch, St Mary's College and St Peter's College, Cardross. He studied for the Priesthood at the Scots College Rome and received his Ph.D. in 1964 from the Gregorian University, Rome.


He was ordained a Priest for the Archdiocese of Glasgow on the 29th June 1960, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.


He was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Glasgow on the 31st May 1977 in St Francis' Church, Glasgow, by Archbishop Thomas Winning. He was later translated to the Diocese of Motherwell on the 13th May 1983.


Having turned the age of 75 in August 2012, Pope Francis accepted Bishop Devine's resignation on 30th May 2013. Bishop Devine died in Wishaw General Hospital on 23rd May 2019.

Bishop Joseph Devine

Photo by Paul McSherry

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