This dragon is part of the imagination of the inhabitants of the city of Metz. According to legend, the “Graoully” once roamed the city, spitting fire, and capturing young children and the poorest in its sharp claws.
A bird of misfortune
It was said that in the 3rd century, when Metz was still Roman, a dragon lived in the amphitheater at the gates of the city. He hovered over the city of Metz like a bird of misfortune, sowing fear and terror, choosing his prey among the inhabitants who had not had time to run for cover when he approached. Nothing frightened him, except the water he never approached. Graoully was the name given to this monster, a name that comes from the German “graulich”: macabre. It looked like a dragon, with a head and small legs. Its body was covered in shiny, sharp scales that no weapon could pierce, and its wings were huge enough to allow it to move through the air much better than on land.
The help of Saint-Clément
But one day, Saint-Clément, who had become bishop of Metz, decided to tackle the problem head-on. While preaching against the pagan beliefs of northern Gaul in the public square, a legionnaire challenged him: “Since you can work miracles, then get rid of Graoully! “. Indeed, Saint Clement had several miracles to his credit, including the resurrection of the daughter of a Roman governor. He went to the amphitheater without fearing all the other reptiles that lived there. When the Graoully is about to swoop down on him, the saint stops him with a look and a wave of his hand. The monster hesitates, it’s the second it takes Saint Clement to undo his toga from over his tunic, and tighten it around the beast’s neck. The too short legs of the Graoully prevent it from tearing the garment. Knocked down and deprived of his tusks, he was at the mercy of Clément, who dragged him to the Seille and drowned him there. Back in town, the inhabitants of Metz gave him a triumph. The city prospered, and never again was a monster seen in Metz. Since that day, every year the people of Messins commemorate the death of Graoully by parading in the street and carrying an effigy of the monster to which they shout insults and vengeful jokes.