Venerable Comgall of Bangor

Saint Comgall (Comhghall), “the Father of Monks,” was born in Ireland at Dalaradia, Co. Ulster sometime between 510 and 520. Unlike many of the early Irish saints, St Comgall was not of noble birth. He served as a soldier, then studied with St Finnian of Moville (September 10). He was ordained to the holy priesthood by Bishop Lugaid before the age of forty.

St Comgall and several companions lived for a time on an island in Lough Erne in the county of Ulster, where they lived a very strict ascetical life. Although his desire was to be a missionary in Scotland, Bishop Lugaid asked him to stay in Ireland and establish a monastery at Bangor (Bennchor) on the southern shore of Belfast Loch (in modern Co. Down). The monastery was founded sometime between 552-555.

It is believed that over four thousand monks were trained by St Comgall at Bangor, including St Columbanus of Luxeuil (November 21, or 23) and St Moluag (June 25). St Comgall often prayed while standing in the water for several hours. Sometimes at night his cell seemed to be ablaze with a heavenly radiance.

Later St Comgall did visit Scotland, where he became very close to St Columba of Iona (June 9), by whose prayers Comgall was once saved from drowning.

St Comgall lived to an advanced age, then suffered from a prolonged illness. He completed the course of his earthly life at Bangor on May 10, 602, after receiving Holy Communion from St Fiacre (August 30).