590 to the Frankish kingdom and founded there the monastery of Luxeuil in Burgundy.10 He is often regarded as having paved the way for Irish missionary activity on the mainland. But the impact of this Irish mission tends to be overrated. The true significance of Columban's historical mission to the continent rather lies in his attracting from the very beginning a considerable following from among the Frankish nobility. As a result of this, Luxeuil became the starting point for an important movement of monastic renewal (the first in a long series of similar movements in later centuries) within the Frankish kingdom. This movement - which is often called 'Iro-Frankish' - was in fact no longer dependent on Irish monks.

The emergence of a dense net of monasteries created the framework for the blossoming of Irish Christian-monastic culture. It radiated throughout the whole of Western Europe. At the same time, the dissemination of monasticism had important consequences for local ecclesiastical organisation. Monasteries began to be involved in pastoral care, and more and more priests joined the monastic movement. Transcending political boundaries, groups of monasteries formed around those monastic centres that enjoyed a high reputation. These groups were characteristically called paruchiae, a term that originally referred either to an ecclesiastical province under a metropolitan bishop or to the diocese of a bishop. In some cases, at least, monastic paruchiae took the place of bishoprics. In the course of this process, the abbots, who frequently were either themselves also ordained bishops or who delegated the sacramental tasks of a bishop to a monk who was ordained bishop, took over the running of the church. In the British church, however, the organisation remained in the hands of bishops, many of whom lived in monastic communities and carried out their offices from monasteries. Early in the seventh century, seven British bishops confronted Augustine of Canterbury and refused to acknowledge the precedence that he claimed.

A number of characteristically Celtic church customs became controversial at this time, particularly the manner in which the date of Easter was calculated. The British and Irish followed their own traditions for this, traditions unknown elsewhere in Western Christianities. The issue came into focus at the beginning of the seventh century, when Augustine of Canterbury unsuccessfully asked the British bishops to abandon their method of calculating the date of Easter. Similarly, in the Frankish kingdom, Columban of Luxeuil met with hostility because of his Irish practice. The determination of the date of Easter is based on so-called Easter cycles. A cycle of this kind is a series of years following

10 K. Schaferdiek,'Columbans Wirken im Frankenreich (591-612)'.

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