Saint Gall

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Gall, Saint, the Apostle of Switzerland, was born in Ireland in 551. He was educated at Bangor, and in 585, following St. Columbanus into France, accompanied him to Luxeuil and in his various wanderings in exile. When Columbanus was departing for Italy, St. Gall was detained by illness at Bregentz, on Lake Constance, where, as a convenient centre for the conversion of an idolatrous people, he ultimately fixed his residence. In a desert place he erected the Monastery of Arbon, which eventually became so celebrated that the name of its founder was given to the surrounding country — now the Canton of St. Gall. He was later on unavailingly solicited to accept the bishopric of Constance and the abbacy of Luxeuil. Many of his disciples became noted in the ecclesiastical world — as St. John, Bishop of Constance, and St. Magne and St. Theodore, founders of well known abbeys. His sermon preached at the ordination of his disciple John, comprising a history of religion from the earliest times, still extant, is said to display, "a simple style, full of force, brilliancy, and piety, and a depth of erudition uncommon in those times."[34]

He died about 640, and his festival is celebrated on the 16th October. The Abbey of St. Gall eventually became one of the most famed monastic establishments in Europe — alike for the learning of its monks, the splendour of its architecture, and its library. It was suppressed for a time during the Reformation, but re-established in 1532. In 1798 it was secularized, and its revenues were sequestered in 1805. It is now occupied chiefly by government offices; but many valuable manuscripts remain in the library.

Sources

34. Biographie Générale. 46 vols. Paris, 1855-'66. An interleaved copy, copiously noted by the late Dr. Thomas Fisher, Assistant Librarian of Trinity College, Dublin.

125a. Encyclopaedia, Chambers's. 10 vols. London, 1860-'8.

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