- historical event: The spreading of monasteries from Ireland towards continental Europe represented an irreplaceable contribution to early medieval Christianity. St. Columbanus was one of the most well-known missionaries of that period.
The well-known St. Columbanus died on this day in 615. He was a missionary known for founding monasteries throughout Europe. The spreading of monasteries from Ireland towards continental Europe represented an irreplaceable contribution to early medieval Christianity.
St. Columbanus was born in Ireland in 543, the same year when St. Benedict – another renowned monastery-founder – died at Monte Cassino. St. Columbanus became a monk in Ireland, and became a missionary only in his 40s.
Together with 12 colleagues, Columbanus set off from Ireland and, in 585, landed on what is now the French coast. From there he began spreading the Irish monastic tradition and founding monasteries. He founded several monasteries on the territory of early medieval Burgundy. He later moved to what is now Germany, and founded a monastery near Mehrerau, near the modern Austrian-German-Swiss border.
Setting off towards Italy, St. Columbanus founded the renowned Bobbio monastery south of Milan. That monastery was allegedly the inspiration for Umberto Eco’s novel The Name of the Rose.
St. Columbanus died on this day in the Bobbio monastery. He was also buried there, and his missionary work was continued by his associates. One of the more well-known among these was St. Gall, after whom a Swiss canton is named after him (St. Gallen). The Catholic Church celebrates St. Columbanus Day on 23 November.