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A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography
Gallus (11), Abbat, the Apostle of Switzerland
Gallus (11), abbat, the apostle of Switzerland. One primary authority is the Vita S.Galli, compiled by Walafrid Strabo, abbat of Reichenau (a.d. 842â€“849), and pub. by Surius ( Vitae Sanct. Oct. 16, t. iv. 252 seq., Colon. 1617), by Mabillon (Acta SS. O.S.B. ii. 215 seq.), and Migne ( Patr. Lat. cxiii. 975 seq.). Another Vita S. Galli, ex MS. St. Gall. 553, is published by Portz ( Mon. Germ. Hist. ii. 189). The original documents are to be found in Wartmann's Nerkundenbuch der Abtei St. Gallen, vols. i.â€“iii. 1865â€“1882.
He undoubtedly was of Irish birth, and his original name was Cellach, Calech, or Caillech. Trained at Bangor, in the famous school of St. Comgall, he accompanied Columbanus into Gaul, a.d. 585, and in his exile from Luxeuil along the Rhine into Switzerland, and, apparently from his aptness at learning the languages, proved a most useful assistant in preaching to the Suevi, Helvetii, and neighbouring tribes. [See COLUMBANUS.] When Columbanus in 612 left Switzerland to escape the persecution of the Burgundian court, Gallus was detained at Bregenz by a fever, but as soon as he could, returned to his friend the priest Willimar, at Arbona on the S. shore of the Lake of Constance, and devoted his remaining years to the conversion of the wild tribes inhabiting this eastern frontier of Austrasia. On the banks of the Steinaha or Steinach he built his cell and oratory, in the midst of a thick forest. Twelve others accompanied him. His collection of rude huts determined the site of the town and monastery of St. Gall. When the see of Constance became vacant in 616, the episcopate was urgently pressed upon him, and again in 625, but he declined, and was allowed to nominate his deacon John, a native of the place. The sermon he preached at John's consecration is extant in Latinâ€”a wonderful specimen of Irish erudition, simple yet full of vigour, learned and devout, giving an abstract of the history of God's dealings from the creation, of the fall and redemption, of the mission of the apostles and calling of the Gentiles, and ending with a powerful appeal to Christian faith and life, which gives some idea of the state of the corrupt and barbarous society he was seeking to leaven. Beyond these few incidents we know little. He died Oct. 16, 645 or 646, at Arbona, aged 95, but some propose an earlier date.
The oratory of St. Gall gave rise to one of the most celebrated monasteries of the middle ages, and its library to this day stands unrivalled in the wealth and variety of its ancient manuscripts. (For an account of the school of St. Gall and its cultivation of the fine arts, see Hist. lit. de la France, iv. 243â€“246.)
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Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Gallus (11), Abbat, the Apostle of Switzerland'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hwd/g/gallus-11-abbat-the-apostle-of-switzerland.html. 1911.
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