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Gall

(c. 550—650) supposed monastic founder


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St Columbanus (c. 543—615) missionary and monastic founder

St Comgall (d. c. 600)

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(d. c.630),

Irish monk and hermit. Probably from Leinster, Gall became a monk at Bangor under Comgall and Columbanus. With the latter he went to Gaul where they founded monasteries at Annergray and Luxeuil. Exiled from that area they preached around Tuggen, by Lake Zurich, and later were given land for hermitages and as a base for evangelization at Bregenz and later at Arbon (Switzerland). The local king, Sigebert, offered Gall a bishopric, and the monks of Luxeuil on the death of Columbanus' disciple, Eustace, elected Gall as their abbot; but he refused both offices and lived out his days as a hermit and occasional itinerant preacher. There are various legends which tell of some disagreement with Columbanus; however, his monks at Bobbio after his death sent his pastoral staff to Gall as a sign of forgiveness for not going with him to Italy. Gall did not found the Benedictine monastery which bears his name, which (with the town around it) grew up on the site of one of his hermitages, about a century after his death. However, Gall was a principal pioneer of Christianity in Switzerland, although he was a hermit and never bishop or abbot. His cult is very ancient, his name is in early 9th-century martyrologies. His shrine remained until the Reformation: when it was rifled, his bones were seen to be unusually large. His abbey survived until 1805 and the church is now a cathedral. Beside it there remain many manuscripts of the famous abbey library, one of the most notable in Europe and including several early and important manuscripts of Gregorian Chant. Feast: 16 October.

Three early Lives of Gall, one anonymous, one by Wetting, and the third by Walafrid Strabo, are edited by B. Krusch, M.G.H., Scriptores rerum merov., iv. 251–337 (tr. of the third by M. Joynt, The Life of St Gall, 1927);see also AA.SS. Oct. VII (1845), 856–909;J. M. Clark, The Abbey of St Gall (1926).

Subjects: Christianity.


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