Saint Gall, Abbot

October 16

Today is the feast day of Saint Gall.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Gall was born in Ireland soon after the middle of the sixth century, of pious, noble, and rich parents. He was raised in a monastery during his youth, under Saint Colomban and Saint Comgall, his Abbot. When Saint Columban left Ireland, Saint Gall accompanied him into England and afterward into France, where they arrived in 585.

In a wild forest of the diocese of Besançon, Saint Columban founded the monastery of Annegray, and two years afterward another in Luxeuil. Driven away by a hostile king, the two Saints withdrew into more propitious regions, eventually going into Switzerland, near Bregentz, a village on Lake Constance.

The idolaters of the region were greatly irritated when Saint Gall preached to them and broke three statues, throwing the pieces into the lake. Many, however, were converted, and Saint Columban was able to purify and dedicate a formerly idolatrous chapel, which had once been a small sanctuary honoring a Roman martyr named Saint Aurelia, and consecrate an altar for it, where Mass was then offered. The disciples who had remained behind the two Saints, rejoined them at this place and built cells around the chapel. When the Saints learned that the hostile king who had driven them out of France now had conquered this Swiss territory also, Saint Columban went into Italy; Saint Gall was prevented by a grievous illness from accompanying him.

Saint Gall had been ordained a priest by the command of Saint Columban, and now, having learned the language of the region where he settled near Lake Constance, he cast out demons, lived in peace with the wild animals, drove serpents from the valley, and converted to the faith a great number of idolaters. (2)

Although the monks of Luxeuil elected Gall as their abbot and a local king, Sigebert, offered him a bishopric, he declined both and chose to remain a hermit.

Gall did not found the monastery which carries his name and is now a cathedral town, St Gallen – it was a later Benedictine foundation built to guard his relics. He died inaround 630. His name is listed in early ninth century martyrologies.

The bear
One story about him is that at his command a bear brought wood to feed the fire which Gall and his companions had kindled in the forest. In Alsace his feast 16 October was a marker for harvesting apples and bringing cows down from pasture to stable for the winter. (3)

Image: Saint Gall, Filialkirche St. Venantius, Pfärrenbach, Gemeinde Horgenzell
Wandgemälde im Kirchenschiff: Hl. Gallus (5)

Research by REGINA Staff


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