Who was St. Gall?
St. Gall was born in Ireland and was one of St. Columban's 12 disciples. He trained with St. Columban and St. Comgall and traveled with them to France to establish the Luxeuil Monastery between the years 585 and 590 A.D. In 610 A.D., St. Columban was exiled by leaders opposed to Christianity and the church and fled with St. Gall to Switzerland. In their travels they found the church alive and present, but many towns were without monasteries and cathedrals. Together they established monasteries where young Christian men could study and learn the scriptures.
He died at the age of 95 in Switzerland, at Arbon. He spent the remaining years of his life in prayer and study of the scriptures. During his life in Switzerland, he lived on the Steinach River, and the monastery of St. Gall was erected on that site.
The feast of St. Gall is celebrated on October 16th. Images of St. Gall typically represent him standing with a bear. A legend recorded in the Lives of St. Gall tells that one night as commanded by St. Gall, a wild bear brought wood to St. Gall and his traveling companions to feed a fire they had kindled in the desert.
St. Gall is remembered and revered in Europe and especially in Switzerland and in Ireland. Decades ago when the South Side of Chicago was predominately Irish-Catholic, St. Gall School was one of a few parishes immortalized in the "South Side Irish" song. The verse that mentions St. Gall Parish is:
"Our parents came from Mayo, from Cork and Donnegal. We come from Sabina's, St. Killian's and St. Gall, St. Leo, Visitation, Little Flower and the rest. The South Side parishes are mighty--they're the best!"