What Is the Glasgow Motto?

Journey into the heart of Glasgow's motto, 'Let Glasgow Flourish,' and discover its profound origins and enduring significance.

Nearly 80% of visitors to Glasgow have encountered the city's motto, 'Let Glasgow Flourish,' without fully grasping its rich historical and cultural significance. As you wander through the vibrant streets of Glasgow, you've likely noticed this emblematic phrase adorning various landmarks, but have you ever paused to ponder its origins and meaning?

Rooted in a sermon by the beloved Saint Mungo and encapsulated within the city's coat of arms, this motto isn't merely a call for prosperity but a profound reflection of Glasgow's enduring spirit and values. Exploring the depths of its origins, the symbolism interwoven with Saint Mungo's legacy, and its impact on modern Glasgow unveils a narrative that's as captivating as the city itself.

Let's embark on a journey to uncover how this four-word motto encapsulates the heart of a city that has thrived on the principles of enlightenment and knowledge for centuries.

Origins of the Motto

Delving into the origins of the motto 'Let Glasgow Flourish,' it's essential to recognize its roots in a sermon by St. Mungo, the city's patron saint, highlighting its deep connection to Glasgow's religious and historical fabric. This phrase, originating from a fuller invocation, 'Lord, let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of the word,' not only ties the city's identity to its spiritual heritage but also underscores a longing for enlightenment and development through knowledge and faith.

The coat of arms, adorned with symbols like the tree, bird, fish, and bell, intricately weaves the story of St. Mungo and his miraculous deeds into Glasgow's emblematic heart. Each element of this emblematic quartet narrates a chapter of Mungo's life, binding the narrative of the patron saint of Glasgow to every facet of the city's identity.

Granted officially in 1866 and reaffirmed in 1996, these symbols alongside the motto, 'Let Glasgow Flourish,' serve as a perpetual reminder of the city's resilience, growth, and the foundational role of Mungo's teachings in shaping its ethos. This integration of spiritual legacy with civic pride encourages a continuous striving toward progress and freedom, embodying the essence of Glasgow's spirit.

Meaning and Symbolism

Exploring the meaning and symbolism behind the Glasgow coat of arms, you'll uncover how each symbol—namely, the tree, bird, fish, and bell—embodies a significant event from Saint Mungo's life, weaving a narrative that's deeply intertwined with the city's aspirations and heritage.

The Glasgow coat of arms is more than just an emblem; it's a storybook of miracles performed by Saint Mungo, also known as Saint Kentigern, the revered patron saint of the city. The bird that never flew, the tree that never grew, the fish that never swam, and the bell that never rang aren't just mystical elements but represent pivotal moments in Saint Mungo's journey, each carrying a deeper meaning.

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The phrase 'Let Glasgow Flourish,' inspired by Saint Mungo's sermon, is a clarion call to the city's inhabitants, echoing their ambitions and collective identity. These symbols, rooted in legend, continue to flow through the veins of Glasgow, as vital as the River Clyde, signaling the city's resilience, heritage, and the undying spirit of freedom.

The coat of arms, therefore, isn't just a sigil but a beacon of Glasgow's authority and its everlasting bond with Saint Mungo.

Saint Mungo Connection

Building on the rich symbolism of the Glasgow coat of arms, it's crucial to examine the profound connection between the city and its patron saint, Saint Mungo, whose life and miracles are intricately woven into the fabric of Glasgow's identity.

The coat of arms, a vibrant tapestry of symbols including a bird, a bell, a fish, and a tree, echoes the legendary deeds of Saint Mungo. Each emblem narrates a tale of miracles and moral lessons, from the bird that never sang to the bell that will ring for the city's well-being.

Saint Mungo's influence extends beyond the coat of arms; it's embedded in the very ethos of Glasgow. The motto 'Let Glasgow Flourish,' derived from his preaching, encapsulates a vision of freedom and progress, urging the city and its people towards prosperity. These symbols and the motto aren't just remnants of the past; they're badges of authority, heritage, and a continuous reminder of the city's spiritual and historical lineage.

Found on structures and landmarks throughout Glasgow, they celebrate the feast day of Saint Mungo and serve as a testament to the city's enduring connection to its patron saint.

Elements of the Coat of Arms

Let's examine the four symbols on the Glasgow coat of arms, each embodying a chapter in the life and legends of Saint Mungo and collectively representing the city's authority and heritage. At first glance, the coat of arms represents more than just the city's identity; it delves into the historical and spiritual essence of Glasgow, anchored by Mungo's miraculous tales.

The bird, often a robin which was tamed, signifies a miracle associated with Mungo, symbolizing compassion and rejuvenation. This element illustrates Mungo's ability to breathe life into the lifeless, a testament to the city's resilience and renewal.

The bell, specifically mentioned in the motto, represents the voice of Glasgow, calling out to the world and echoing the city's foundational values of community and communication.

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Next, the fish, depicted as a salmon with a ring in its mouth, narrates a tale of loyalty and trust, crucial virtues that underscore the relational fabric of Glasgow.

Lastly, the tree in the coat, an oak tree with branches from a hazel, stands as a beacon of growth and stability, mirroring Glasgow's continuous evolution yet unwavering spirit.

Together, these symbols weave a narrative of Glasgow's rich history and the moral compass guided by Saint Mungo's legacy, underpinning the city's motto and its aspirations.

The Motto in Modern Glasgow

Having examined the symbols that encapsulate Glasgow's heritage and the legacy of Saint Mungo, we now turn our attention to how the city's motto, 'Let Glasgow flourish,' resonates in contemporary Glasgow, shaping its identity and aspirations.

This motto, a distilled echo of Mungo's sermon, 'Lord, let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of the word,' has become a beacon for the city's forward movement. You'll find it inscribed on the modern coat of arms, granted anew to the city council in 1996, a testament to Glasgow's perpetual renewal.

The coat of arms itself, replete with Mungo's bird, St Serf's bell, the fish, and the tree, narrates the city's story while anchoring it firmly to its spiritual and historical roots. Today, these symbols and the motto they support speak to the city of Glasgow's ambition, guiding the Lord Provost of Glasgow and the city's authorities as they steer the community towards prosperity and enlightenment.

As you walk through the People's Palace or observe the city's governance, the motto's presence serves as a reminder of Glasgow's commitment to flourish through education, innovation, and the inclusive preaching of the word. It's a modern manifestation of St. Mungo's vision, embodying a declaration of freedom and progress for all Glaswegians.

Notable Locations and Displays

Glasgow's landscape is adorned with its coat of arms, a symbol of the city's enduring heritage and ambition, prominently displayed in locations ranging from the historic lamppost near Glasgow Cathedral to the modern Commonwealth Arena. This emblem encapsulates tales of St Serf, Lord Provost, and the revered Mungo. It's not just an icon but a narrative woven into the city's fabric, echoing the legends of the robin, salmon, and the mighty Clyde.

As you delve deeper, you'll discover the coat of arms at the heart of Glasgow's identity, each location offering a unique lens through which to view the city's past. The University of Glasgow stretches this narrative further, incorporating the coat of arms with elements that signify authority and heritage, symbolizing an academic lineage intertwined with the city's history.

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LocationSymbol HighlightedSignificance
Glasgow CathedralRobinRepresenting Mungo's miracles
Commonwealth ArenaSalmonSymbolizing the Clyde's life-giving flow
Tron ChurchLampostIlluminating Glasgow's historic paths

Through these emblems, Glasgow's tale unfolds, inviting you to explore its streets and stories, where history breathes life into the present.

Cultural Impact and Legacy

Exploring the emblematic locations where Glasgow's coat of arms proudly stands, we now turn our attention to the profound cultural impact and legacy this symbol has fostered throughout the city's history. The coat of arms, first granted by the Lord Lyon, commemorates the real story behind Glasgow's patron saint, Saint Mungo, and encapsulates the city's identity and aspirations.

Here's what you need to understand:

  1. Symbols and Their Meanings: Each element depicted in the coat of arms – a bird, a bell, a fish, and a tree – connects to versions of the story of Saint Mungo. These symbols represent the life and miracles of Glasgow's patron saint, deeply embedding religious traditions and cultural roots within the city's fabric.
  2. Motto's Significance: 'Let Glasgow Flourish' is more than just a motto; it's a legacy of Saint Mungo's words, urging the city to flourish by the preaching of his words. This phrase has become a rallying cry for growth, prosperity, and spiritual well-being.
  3. Beyond Symbolism: The cultural impact and legacy of Glasgow's coat of arms stretch far and wide, influencing the city's identity, cultural expressions, and educational resources. It showcases the enduring connection to its patron saint and the aspirations that continue to drive Glasgow forward.

In essence, the story represented in the coat of arms isn't just history; it's a living testament to the city's ongoing journey towards freedom and flourishing.


As you've journeyed through the rich tapestry of Glasgow's motto, 'Let Glasgow Flourish,' you've uncovered its deep roots in the wisdom of Saint Mungo and its lasting impact on the city's identity.

This phrase isn't just a collection of words; it's a living, breathing ethos that shapes Glasgow's spirit. Now, imagine the countless stories and innovations yet to unfold under this powerful mantra.

What future chapters of prosperity and enlightenment will be written? The answer lies in the very heart of Glasgow, waiting to be discovered.