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Mende (Municipality, Lozère, France)

Last modified: 2010-11-13 by ivan sache
Keywords: lozere | mende | sun: 16 rays (yellow) |
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[Flag of Mende]by Arnaud Leroy


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Presentation of Mende

Mende (c. 13,000 inhabitants) is the préfecture of the department of Lozère and is one of the smallest, if not the smallest, of the French prefectures.

In the Roman times, Mende was a vicus (village) established on the right bank of the river Lot. In the IIIrd century, Saint Privat, the evangelist of Gévaudan, lived in a cave on the Mont Mimat. After his martyre by local pagans, his grave (now in the crypt of the cathedral) became an important place of pilgrimage, and the city of Mende spread on the left bank of the Lot.
In the XIIIth century, the bridge Notre-Dame was built to link the two parts of the city. The bridge has a single wide arch, which has been succesfully resisting the Lot floods since its building.
Pope Urban V (Guillaume de Grimoard, 1310-1370) was born in the castle of Grizac in Lozère. He was based in Avignon and attempted an aborted return to Rome (1367-1370). However, he did not forget his fatherland and built the cathedral of Mende. In 1579, during the Religion Wars, the Protestant warlord Matthieu Merle seized the city during Christmas Eve. He blew up the pillars of the cathedral and broke the Non Pareille (Without Equivalent) bell, which was at that time the biggest bell of the Christian world (20 tons). The bell clapper (2.15 m) was preserved and placed in the cathedral beside the organ. The cathedral was restored in the XVIIth century and a neogothic porch was added to the main entrance in 1900.

Mende was elected the French most sporting city in 1988. One of the most famous pedestrian races in the world, run between Marvejols and Mende (22.6 km) celebrated in 2002 its 30th anniversary with 5,000 competitors. This race is famous not only for its difficulty but also for the associated festival (fireworks in Marvejols and Mende, atmosphere a la Tour de France along the course and at the arrival, after race dinner for all the professional and the amateur competitors, and last but not least, the nightly Tour de Mende, in light closing or even in one's birthday suit.)

Ivan Sache, 30 July 2002


Flag of Mende

The municipal flag of Mende is blue with the sun from the coat of arms in the upper right corners and Mende in white letters in the lower part of the flag. The sun is placed above the d of Mende. This flag flies at the most important crossroads of the city.

Ivan Sache, 30 July 2002


Coat of arms of Mende

The coat of arms of Mende is:

Azur, an uncial letter M or, surmonted of a sun of the same.

The uncial M letter is heart-shaped and stands of course for Mende. The sun refers to the motto of the city: Tenebrae eam non comprehenderunt, the darkness never invaded it. The motto was intended to mean that Protestantism never entered the city (which is partially wrong, see above, but mostly true, since the Roman Catholic Bishop of Mende was Count of Gévaudan and President of the States General of Gévaudan).

Ivan Sache, 30 July 2002


Vertical flag of Mende

[Vertical flag of Mende]by Arnaud Leroy

There is also in Mende a kind of gonfanon, a swallow-tailed version of the municipal flag hosted vertically everywhere in the city.

Ivan Sache, 30 July 2002