Pope Benedict told the Episcopal Conferences of Europe meeting in the Swiss city of St. Gallen that today's Church can learn lessons from the missionaries who first evangelized the continent.
“The experience of St. Gallen, like that of many other protagonists of evangelization in Europe’s land and throughout the world, teaches that the Christian message is sown and rooted effectively where it is lived authentically and eloquently by a community” the Pope in his Sept. 27 letter to the episcopal gathering.
St. Gallen was one of the twelve disciples of 6th century Irish abbot Saint Colombanus. The missionary group set forth from Ireland to evangelize the continent of Europe. After an illness forced St. Gallen to remain near the Arbon district of northern Switzerland, he decided to dedicate himself to the hermitic life.
“His reputation for holiness attracted many to him, giving birth to a monastic community that would become, in turn, the driving force for more missions among many people,” the Pope noted.
The Plenary Assembly for the Council of the Episcopal European Conference is taking place from Sept. 27-30 in St. Gallen, which has been the seat of the Council’s secretariat since 1978.
This year also marks the 1400th anniversary of St. Gallen’s arrival in the canton of Switzerland that now bears his name. The meeting comes only weeks before the opening of the Synod of Bishops in Rome, convened by Pope Benedict to discuss the “new evangelization” of the contemporary world.
“Therefore, the memory of St. Gallen and his work, on the eve of the Synod Assembly on the New Evangelization, will stimulate the Plenary of this Council to look with faith and hope – through the eyes of Christ the Lord – the great ‘harvest’ that it is the people Europe, in the wake of Vatican II and the teachings of the Supreme Pontiffs who have implemented them,” the pontiff said.