1. Religion & Spirituality

Who Was Saint Gall (a Patron Saint of Birds)?

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Saint Gall

A stained glass window depiction of Saint Gall, from a German church

Photo by Wolfgang Sauber

Name:

Saint Gall (alternatively spelled Saint Gallus or Saint Gallen)

Lifetime:

550 to 646 AD in the area that is now Ireland, France, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany

Feast Day:

October 16th

Patron Saint Of:

Birds, geese, and poultry (chickens and turkeys)

Famous Miracles:

Saint Gall miraculously performed an exorcism for a woman named Fridiburga, who was engaged to be married to Sigebert II, King of the Franks. Fridiburga was possessed by demons who hadn't come out of her previously when two different bishops had tried to exorcise them. But when Gall tried to exorcise them, the demons flew out of Fridiburga's mouth in the form a black bird. That dramatic event inspired people to make Saint Gall the patron saint of birds.

Another animal miracle associated with Saint Gall is the story of how he encountered a bear in the forest near his monastery one day and asked the bear if it would help him and his fellow monks gather firewood that they needed. Miraculously, the bear did gather firewood for the monks to use in their monastery.

Biography:

Gall was born in Ireland and, after growing up, he became a monk at Bangor, a major Irish monastery that served as the center of mission work for Europe. In 585, Gall joined a small group of monks led by Saint Columba to travel to France and found two monasteries there (Annegray and Luxeuil).

Gall kept traveling to preach the Gospel and help start new monasteries until 612, when he became ill and needed to stay in one place to heal and recover. Gall then lived in Switzerland with some other monks. They focused on prayer and Bible scholarship while living as hermits. After Gall's death, his small monastery grew to become a well-regarded center of music, art, and literature.

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