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ST MUNGO AND THE ROBIN

Posted: 12.01.20 in Articles category

Various Celtic Christian saints have been associated with birds over the centuries. Cuthbert, the Northumbrian saint, has a sea duck named after him locally as the Cuddie Duck and the Irish saint Kevin is remembered for the Blackbird building a nest on his outstretched hand. And in Scotland the founder of Glasgow, St Mungo, is linked to the Robin - an association celebrated in that city's coat of arms which features a robin.

There are at least 2 stories told about robins in the life of this 6th century saint, also known as Kentigern. The most well known story dates from Mungo's childhood when he was moved to pity on seeing a robin being stoned to death by classmates, picked up the bird, prayed over it and miraculously restored it to life. A second story appears in Robert Van de Weyer 's anthology 'Celtic Fire' about Mungo choosing a site for a monastery. That tale involves a robin, as well as a wild hound who led Mungo to the place where he would choose to build... a place which in time became Scotland's premier city:

"Eventually they arrived at a beautiful lush valley, with a clear blue river running through it . Around the valley they could see little columns of smoke, so they knew there were many tribal people living there. The hound stopped near the riverbank and began scratching the ground with its feet, tearing up tufts of glass. Mungo fell to his knees, asking God whether this was truly the place to build his monastery.

At that moment a little robin flew down from a tree, landing on Mungo's shoulder. It flapped its wings, and, with its little beak, kissed Mungo on the neck. Mungo knew that, if even the birds welcomed him, this was the place to found his monastery. The hound went off to collect branches, and the bird brought leaves and grass; and soon Mungo had built himself a hut...."

St Mungo and his robin are still remembered in Glasgow today, especially his feast day on 13 January. If you visiting the city, look out for 2 giant and impressive wall murals painted by a modern Australian street artist.

 
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