Saint Ninian's missionary monks
In time, Saint Ninian would have gathered around him a community of missionary monks. They would have imitated what Saint Ninian had experienced in Europe. Following the teaching of the Gospel, missionaries went out in pairs travelling from place to place, perhaps establishing a circuit which would eventually bring them back to the monastery for a time of rest and recuperation, recharging their batteries for the next journey. Because of this pattern of activity they have been described as missionary monks. It was a well-established method of evangelisation for several centuries in the Early Church. Saint Ninian and his monks worked in the southern half of Scotland as far as the Campsies. This is the reason why we have a Saint Ninian’s Church and School in Kirkintilloch today. There is some belief that Saint Ninian may have travelled much further north along the coast. When Saint Ninian retreated to Whithorn to rest, the tradition is he spent some of the time at the cave on the seafront where the annual Mass is celebrated in his honour. It may also have been where he made first landfall in Scotland.
In the time of Saint Ninian, people traveled by sea, if at all possible. Roads were few and rough, and there was the frequent incidence of banditry. The sea was not seen as any kind of obstacle, but as a highway.