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making gifts to tribal kings and judges. His mission was aimed at all levels of society, including serfs. It also found resonance in the nobility and even among the families of tribal kings, but there is no evidence that any kings were themselves persuaded by it. The training of his helpers and clergy for their tasks was undertaken by Patrick in person.

A number of those converted by St Patrick led an ascetic life as 'monks' and 'virgins of Christ'. This did not, however, amount to the early foundation of monasteries; the group of ascetics remained a part of the bishops' congregation that was traditionally the basic element of ecclesiastical organisation. Each of these bishoprics was probably defined through allocation to one of the numerous small kingdoms (tUatha (sing. tUath)).

In the course of the sixth century, however, the Celtic churches were taken over by coenobitic monasticism, though its arrival and spread in the British Isles cannot be traced with any certainty. Illtud, a figure shrouded in legend, founded the Llantwit Major monastery (Glamorgan) as early as the late fifth century. The British monasteries of the sixth century include St Davids (Pembroke), Dol (Brittany) and Llancafarn (Glamorgan), and their founders, David, Samson and Cadoc, are thought to have been pupils of Illtud.

In Ireland, the convent of Kildare in Leinster, which - through the association of a monks' community - became a double monastery, was created at the early date of around 500. Its foundation is attributed to St Bridget. A number of notable monasteries were founded in the mid-sixth century: from a monastic school founded by Finnian, there emerged the monastery of Clonard (Meath). One of the country's largest monasteries was Clonmacnois (Offaly), established in central Ireland by Ciaran, and Comgall founded the monastery of Bangor (Down) at Belfast Lough, which was known for its strict rules.

The characteristic ideal of ascetic pilgrimage for the sake of Christ (peregrina-tiopro Christo) is impressively embodied by the northern Irish monk Columban (Colum Cille, 'Dove of the Church'). In 563, he travelled from Ireland to the Scottish part of the Irish kingdom Dal Riata, which lay on both sides of the North Channel (Antrim on the Irish side and Argyll, with the offshore islands, on the Scottish side). He established an influential monastery on the island of Iona (Inner Hebrides), and it was also from there that, with the agreement of the Pictish king Bruide mac Maelchon, he undertook missionary work among the northern Picts. Columban's close relationship to the kings of Dal Riata also throws light on the political significance of Irish monasticism.9 Motivated by the peregrinatio idea, Columban the Younger set off from Bangor around

9 P. Ni Chathain,'Columba'.

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