Traces of the earliest Irish missionaries in Europe come in fabular form through the fog of the early Dark Ages. St Fridolin is reported to have founded churches and abbeys as far afield as Switzerland in the early 6th century. The origin of many of the early missions was St Columba’s monastery on Iona (563): St Aidan travelled from there to found the Lindisfarne monastery (635), which was hugely instrumental in the christianization of the Anglo-Saxons. St Columbanus journeyed from Bangor Abbey in Ulster with 12 companions, arriving in Brittany in 585: they travelled across France establishing a number of religious foundations, including Noirmoutier, Luxeuil, and Annegray. St Columbanus died at Bobbio, in Italy (615), but his surviving companions continued to disseminate his mission. St Fursa was born in western Ireland. The first missionary in England, arriving shortly before Aidan, he would later travel to northern France and Germany.
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