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St Gallus and his Bear in Switzerland photoSt Gallus was an Irish Monk who traversed the European conitinent as one of the twelve bother companions of St Columbanus who voyaged up the Rhine River. The other monks who continued on toward Rome, left Gallus ill on the shores of Lake Constance at the village of Arbon, now in Switzerland. After healing, Gallus wandered the wooded hills of Swabia and into what is now the corner of Austria and Switzerlanda as a hermit. He eventully came on a clearing near the Steinach River where he encountered a hungry bear.

Zum Baren bears in St Gallen photoGallus had only a small portion of bread with him, but in charity offered some of the bread to the bear. In gratitude, the bear brought wood to feed the fire where the monk had built a shelter. Gallus took it as a sign that where he encountered the bear he should build a church. From the church grew the Monastery of St. Gall, one of the great learning centers of the middle ages. The Monastery was disbanded in the Reformation, but today the fabulous Abbey of St Gallen and its Baroque Library are in the heart of St Gallen, Switzerland. The icons of Saint Gallus are always presented with the monk accompanied by his bear and bear symbols are very prominent around the old town of St Gallen. If you want to visit St Gallen you can get around Switzerland by train, very easily

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