St Mungo

St Mungo

St Mungo is the patron saint of Glasgow, and appears on Glasgow’s coat of arms along with the bird that never flew, the fish that never swam, the bell that never rang and the tree that never grew.  These four items attributed to tales of Mungo.

Mungo was raised by St Serf who gave him the name Mungo meaning dear one, he is also known as Kentigern.  Serf had a pet robin which was killed by some of Mungo’s jealous classmates, Mungo is said to have brought it back to life, hence the bird.  The tree also has a connection with St Serf.  Mungo was supposed to be keeping the fire going in the monastery one night and fell asleep allowing the fire to go out.  It is said that Mungo put branches from a tree on the fire and it relit.  The bell represents one that Mungo brought to Glasgow from Rome and was rung at funerals to call together the mourners.  It is said that it couldn’t be found when Mungo died because God didn’t want the people of Glasgow to mourn Mungo’s death but rather to rejoice in his passage into heaven.  A bell, known as St Mungo’s bell, continued to be rung to mark deaths as late as 1578, however this one also appears to have dissapeared as the City Council commissioned a new St Mungo’s bell on 22nd October 1640 and it is this one that is still in Glasgow’s People’s Palace.

The story of the fish is probably the most well-known.  Queen Languoreth of Strathclyde had given a ring that her husband gave her to her lover.  King Riderch had seen the ring on her lovers finger and taken it from him and thrown it into the river Clyde before going back to confront his wife.  Queen Languoreth was distraught knowing that she would face certain death if she couldn’t produce the ring, and her distress grew when she discovered what had happened to it, she went to Mungo to plead for his help.  What kind of help she went to plead for I do not know, but surely she didn’t expect what followed.  Mungo pulled a salmon out of the Clyde and in its mouth was the ring.

You can see Glasgow’s coat of arms here, the motto at the foot has been abbreviated, the full version is – Lord, let Glasgow flourish through the preaching of the word and the praising of your name.


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