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Feastday: May 10

Birth: 517

Death: 603


Comgall, of Ulster, Ireland, spent several years in a monastery at the foot of the Slieve Bloom mountains before becoming a priest. He then settled on an island to begin a religious community, but excessive austerities resulted in the deaths of seven monks there. From this tragedy, Comgall learned to moderate his monastic rule. Thereafter, he founded what was to become Ireland’s most renowned monastery, Bangor. Eventually three thousand monks were living under his authority. These religious undertook a variant of the laus perennis, the perpetual recitation of psalms by relays of monks. The monks of Bangor were divided into seven choirs of 300 monks each, praying in succession throughout the day and night. Once, as Comgall and some of his monks were strolling along a lake, they spotted several swans on the water. The others begged him, “O Father, may we coax the swans?” He gave them permission, but the monks were unable to find any bread crusts in their habits with which to attract the birds. Comgall then called out to the swans, all of which thereupon swam to him. One flew onto Comgall’s lap and let him stroke it.


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