According to his biographer Jonas, Columbanus was born in the year 543, in the shadow of Mount Leinster, southern Ireland. He travelled northward and studied as a monk on an island of Upper Lough Erne before settling in Bangor Abbey, under the rule of the Abbot Comgall.

In 591, he left Bangor on an epic pilgrim journey with twelve companions, among them Gall, crossing the sea to mainland Europe, He travelled across much of France, spending 20 years in and around Luxeuil in the foothills of the Vosges mountains, Eastern France, founding several monastic communities.

Banished from Luxeuil, he crossed and re-crossed France, then travelled up the Rhine to modern-day Switzerland and Austria. Here his closest companion Gall settled in the hamlet of Arbon, on the shores of Lake Constance, before moving inland to found the great monastery from which the city of St. Gallen takes its name.

Columbanus, now in his 70s, crossed the Alps to Milan, before heading for Bobbio, where he founded his last monastery, dying there on the 23rd of November 615.

Click here for the legacy of Columbanus and Gall.