The "fiery Columbanus" (ca. 540-615) of whom Stephen thinks in Nestor and again in Proteus was an Irish monk who carried Christianity to continental Europe during the Dark Ages, founding monasteries in the feudal kingdoms of what are now France and northern Italy. According to Alban Butler's Lives of the Saints, he left his mother in Ireland "grievously against her will," and in Nestor Stephen thinks of him striding across his forlorn mother's "prostrate body" in his "holy zeal" to spread the gospel.

John Hunt 2012

Columbanus embarking, by an unknown artist who reduced his twelve companions to three. Source:

Simplified map of Columbanus' journey, from Bangor to Cornwall to Brittany, then to Luxeuil in Burgundy and to Bobbio in Emilia-Romagna. Source:

Detailed map of Columbanus' routes with arrows to Bangor, Luxeuil, the Biscayan coast, and Bobbio. Source: The Macmillan Atlas of Irish History .