The most famous story about Kentigern accounts for the fish and ring in Glasgow’s seal. A king who suspected his queen of infidelity took a ring he had given her from the finger of a sleeping knight. The king threw the ring into the ocean and demanded that his wife produce the ring in three days. The woman sought Kentigern’s aid; one of his monks found the ring in the mouth of a salmon. Kentigern returned the ring to the queen.
Many legends but few facts are recorded about Kentigern (d. c. 603/612), who with his mother Thenew is a patron of Glasgow. Thenew was a princess whose father set her adrift in a coracle when he learned that she was pregnant out of wedlock. Some tales say that she was thrown off a cliff into the Firth of Forth. She was to die for her sin. She landed at the hermitage of St. Serf at Culross, and he raised her son, whom he named Kentigern and called Mungo, “darling”. Kentigern became a hermit at Glasghu (Glasgow) and followed Irish monastic customs. He was a successful missionary and became c. 543 the first bishop of Strathclyde. When pagans defeated Mungo’s royal benefactor, about ten years later, the bishop went to Wales, where he is said to have founded a monastery that became St. Asaph’s. Kentigern returned to Scotland c. 573/581 after a Christian victory at Arthuret. He is said to have exchanged croziers with Columba; in art, the scene takes place in a column of fire. Kentigern is said to have died on the octave of Theophany while bathing. His tomb is supposed to be in Glasgow Cathedral.