Our Patron Saint
In Ireland, following the evangelization of Saint Patrick, there was much enthusiasm for the monastic life. Monasteries proliferated, and the overflow of monks and saints poured through the British Isles and across the Channel to the Continent. Irish monks offered a haven of learning and culture wherever they settled in Europe. Columban, one of the greatest of Irish missionaries, began his monastic life in Bangor, but soon embarked for France with 12 companions.
His first foundation in Burgundy attracted so many young men that he was forced to open several more monasteries in the area. Because his severe Celtic spirituality aroused considerable opposition among bishops, he next made his way through Austria and Switzerland, founding new monasteries as he went, and came to a halt in Milan, where he became involved in bitter controversy against the Arian heresy. He died in Italy in 615. Columban made a significant contribution to the popularization of monastic life in Europe and wrote an influential monastic rule, later overshadowed by that of Benedict in the West.