The monastic foundation here is thought to have been in existence from at least the 7th century. The monastery is traditionally believed to have been founded by St. Fionan; however, by the 11th century the island and its monastery had been rededicated to St. Michael. It was founded as part of the eremitical practice of the early Irish Church, to withdraw to isolated places to worship God, unencumbered by daily life, society or politics. This sea-bound wilderness did not protect them from the Vikings who raided the island. Skellig Michael continued to be used by a community of monks up until at least the 12th century, before they left the island to a new foundation at Ballinskelligs. The island continued to be used as an occasional hermitage by the Augustinian Canons of Ballinskelligs, and it remained an important place for pilgrimage until the 19thcentury.