St. Gildas, A.D. 500, and the conscience of a society
One of the most famous of all early Celtic missionary-monks, he was born in about 500 probably in the Clyde Valley in Scotland and died in Brittany in about 570. He was a married man, but after being left a widower he joined the monastic community at Llanilltud. He was spiritual guide to a number of visiting monks, including some from Ireland; he also visited Ireland and kept up correspondence with remote monasteries.
In about 540 he wrote a famous work of religious-political history, later used by the Venerable Bede, which showed how corruption by native British officials in state and church left the way open for the Anglo-Saxon invasions [a parallel to the theological history of ancient Israel, where the collapse of the monarchy and the fall of Jerusalem was attributed to religious infidelity]. He spent some time as a hermit in the Bristol Channel, and ended as a monk on an island off the Morbihan coast of southern Brittany, a spot known by his name to this day.