St Comgall

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First abbot of Bangor, Northern Ireland. St Comgall known as the 'father of the monks of Ireland. Born in 516, he was trained by St Fintan at Clonenagh. After his ordination he lived for some years as a hermit in very austere conditions, in Lough Erne. In 558 he founded Bangor which became the largest monastery in Ireland. Together with several smaller houses, the community is said to have reached 3,000.

The seventh century Antiphoner of Bangor wrote that he was 'strict, holy and constant'. His community was said to have been 'graced with the hope of salvation and made perfect in love.' Comgall trained Columbanus and was associated with St Columba who he visited on Iona. They are said to have preached the Gospel in Inverness.

After his spiritual director died, Comgall is quoted as saying: 'My soul-friend has died and I am headless. You too are headless. For a man without a soul-friend is a body without a head.'

Comgall died in 601. He was buried at Bangor. His grave was destroyed by Vikings in 822.

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