MAYOR of North Down Andrew Muir has joined with mayors and dignitaries from Italy and France to commit to a European culture route based on the travels of Saint Columbanus.
The civic leaders, along with church and cultural bodies, have signed up to the establishment of an association to create ‘The Columban Way’.
The ceremony in Bangor Town Hall starts a process that over the next number of months will develop an application to be presented to the European Cultural Committee in Luxembourg that will see the union formally recognised as an official European Cultural Route.
The initial route is to comprise Bangor, Luxeuil-les-Bains in France and Bobbio in Italy and will recognise the influence of Columbanus’ work within central Europe.
It is expected to be formally established by 2015, the year that will mark the 1400th anniversary of the passing of St Columbanus.
That year one that will be marked with events throughout the European countries he was influential in.
After the initial route is formed it is envisaged that it will then expand to take in the additional countries of Switzerland, Austria and Germany, where Columbanus also left his mark through the establishment of monasteries and settlements.
North Down Mayor Andrew Muir said, “I am delighted to be welcoming my counterparts from Italy and France to Bangor for this occasion.
“Not only did Columbanus play a pivotal role in the spread of Christianity in mainland Europe but his importance both here and in Europe has been recognised in that he was the first person to use the term ‘European’, was notably our first man of letters, famous for his poetry, and was the first Irish man of whom a biography was written, by fellow Monk, Jonas. The creation of this route will be a fitting testimony on a European scale to the man and his work.”