Around 640, the hagiographer of Saint Colomban, Jonas of Bobbio, told us about the different routes of the monk in France, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Lichtenstein and Italy. It's an important testimony that helped define the route of Saint Colomban. The European route of the Irish monk starts in Bangor in the bay of Belfast (Northern Ireland) and ends in Bobbio, north of Apennins, at the last monastery he founded where he would die November 21st, 615. The route of Saint Colomban aims to unite these two cities using the same probable route travelled by the monk and his companions before 590 to the city of Luxeuil where Colomban founded three monasteries. In 610 he left Luxeuil and his path continued to Bobbio.
THE COLUMBAN WAY IN FRANCE
This is the route made approximately by Colombano and 12 monks in the European region which currently coincides with France between 590 and 610.
1°Part of route : SAINT COULOMB - ANNEGRAY
This first part of the path of Saint Columban on the European continent traverses mainly the countryside. He left from Saint Coloumb in Brittany on the beach where, in 590, Columban and his monks arrived after having left Bangor and after having landed at Cornouailles. The group of monks travelled to the east of the foothills of the Vosges mountains where they lived for 20 or so years. The exact itinerary isn’t known excepting certain places that were well documented in the biography of Saint Columban, written in 640. The proposed itinerary passes through these cultural and historic places as well as the important sites in Northern France.
This part of the path retraces the exile of Saint Columban and his Irish monk companions from Luxeuil to Nantes. In 610, they were expulsed from the Luxeuil monastery which had been founded 20 years prior and were escorted by armed soldiers along the Loire river up to Nantes where the soldiers received orders from Queen Brunehilde to put the monks on a boat back to Ireland. Once at the Nantes port, the Irish monks, only just boarded, were able to free themselves and they then went on an incredible journey. They followed the big rivers and passed through major cities such as Rennes, Rouen, Paris, Reims and Metz. The next part of the itinerary passed through the French territories for 209 kilometers. It traversed Alsace from north to south, following mainly the main river paths on the Rhin and its canals.