Tuesday, October 18, 2011

St Mungo - A Mystical Picture

My husband, artist Alan Lees, completed this picture of Glasgow's 'patron saint', Mungo (or Kentigern as he is sometimes called) a few weeks ago. There's something really special about it - but I think it's probably the strangest image he has ever created. Mungo was a (late sixth century) holy man of the early celtic church, who built a church next to the Molendinar Burn - where the magnificent cathedral now stands - calling it his 'dear green place' which is the meaning of the name of the city.
His legend traditionally involves a bird, a tree, a bell and a fish.
Mungo restored life to the pet robin of Saint Serf, which had been killed by some of his fellow classmates, who were hoping to blame him for its death.
When left in charge of a fire in Saint Serf's monastery, he fell asleep and the fire went out. Taking branches from a tree, he restarted the fire.
The bell was said to have been used in services and to mourn the deceased - many holy men at the time had these 'square' bells to call the faithful to prayer.
Queen Languoreth of Strathclyde was suspected of infidelity by her husband. King Riderch who asked to see her ring, which he claimed she had given to her lover. In reality the King had thrown it into the River Clyde himself. She appealed for help to Mungo, who ordered a young man to catch a fish in the river. On opening the fish, the ring was miraculously found inside.
The bell, the bird, the fire - but not the fish - are all in Alan's picture. Presumably, the fish is still in the river! However you look at it, this is a strange and evocative piece of work.

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