Remembered each year on 9 June, St Columba is, along with St Patrick and St Bridget, one of Ireland’s most loved and revered saints. Through his work mainly in Scotland, St Columba is now considered the apostle of the painters. Tradition tells us that he performed many miracles, had the gift of prophecy and great power against demonic powers.
St Columba is the one who preached the Gospel to the Painters and is honoured by the people of Ireland and other parts of Europe. Columba was born in 521 AD, on 7 December. The feast day of St Ambrose, in the village of Gartan in the Irish county of Donegal, into a family of royal lineage.
Information on the life of St Columba is given in the short biography (Vita Columbae) written about a hundred years after his death by Adamnan of Iona, and in the work of Bede the Venerable entitled Historia Ecclesia gentis Anglorum. Columba was born in 521 AD, on the feast day of St Ambrose (9 December), in the village of Gartan in the Irish county of Donegal. Columba’s father, Phaedlimid, was a member of the O’Neil royal family and his mother, Eithne, was a descendant of a Leinster king.
Who was Columba and what did he do?
Coming from a family of healthy origins, Columba was entrusted to a priest named Cruitnecan, who, in addition to his chosen education, instilled in the child a love for Christ and His Church. Columba thus entered the monastery of Moville, whose abbot was Bishop Finian, at a young age. The latter ordained Columba as a deacon, who, after a few years’ stay in the monastery, left for the city of Leinster, with the desire to complete his teaching with the bard German. He taught him the mysteries of Irish songs, and Columba himself became a famous bard in Ireland.
Columba was a bishop who proclaimed the gospel all over Ireland and who had erected many monasteries. Among the important monasteries, he founded was that of Derry. It seems that in 555 he built the most important one at Durrow. All these monasteries operated according to a rule or ordinance he had composed, in which the emphasis was not so much on the neediness as on obedience to the abbot and confessor.
From Leinster Columba went to Clonard Abbey, where he was ordained a priest. From here he would also go to Mobhi Monastery in Glasnevin, where he would also take monastic vows. But, through the work of God, Columba would not stay there for long. With a zeal for the monastic life, he would build several churches and monasteries, especially in his native Donegal, but also in other parts of Ireland.
Biography of Columba
|Full name:||Columba Comcille
|Date of birth:||0521 AD
|Year of death:||0597 AD
|The thread of life:||76 years old
|Place of birth:||County of Donegal, Ireland
|Brothers:||Iogen, Mincoleth, Sinech, Cuimne
|Death cause:||Natural causes.
Why is St Columba important?
After 15 years of striving to raise up the monastic life in Ireland, the time came when God appointed his servant Columba to preach in other lands.
According to historical Christian sources, St Columba is important because he laid the foundations of Christianity in Ireland and converted many painters to the true faith. In 563 AD, accompanied by 12 good friends, Columba set out for the west coast of Scotland, settling on a small island called Iona, located on the border between Dalriada and the Pictish kingdom. These Picts were pagans, and Columba tried to get the king’s permission to preach there.
At Jonah Columba built a monastery where he laid down the same rule as in the other monasteries he founded. According to this rule, much emphasis was placed on the better use of time, the day being divided into three parts: one for prayer, one for work and one for reading.
What is the meaning of Saint Columba?
According to historical sources, St. Columba means “holy dove.” Although he was given the name ‘Columba,’ meaning dove, at baptism because he spent so much time in church as a child, people called him ‘Colum-Cille’s, meaning ‘Dove of the Church, and this name knows the saint to this day in Ireland and Scotland.
At his baptism, the saint was given the name Columba, which translates as ‘dove.’ Because he spent his childhood in the church and because he would later travel to the land of Ireland as a ‘troubadour’ of Christ, he would be nicknamed Columcille, Columcellus, or Colme, meaning ‘dove’ of the Church.
According to the custom of the time, Columba was entrusted to an improved priest named Cruitnecan, who, in addition to the fine education he gave him, also instilled in him a love of the Church. Thus the saint entered the monastery of Moville, whose abbot was Saint Bishop Finian, who also ordained him a bishop.
What miracles did St Columba perform?
Tradition has recorded many stories of the miracles and beautiful healings performed by Columba, who also apparently enjoyed the gift of prophecy.
According to biblical sources, one of Columba’s miracles was to baptize a child with water sprinkled from the rock at his prayers, just like Moses. Once, in Scotland, some peasants brought a child to Columba to baptize him. Because they could find no water nearby, Columba knelt and prayed at length. Then, blessing a nearby rock, a stream of water gushed from it, just as Moses had done in the wilderness. Columba baptized the child with this water, making a prophecy about him which was later fulfilled.
He also revealed to people the sins they had committed or told them of things that had happened far away or would happen in the future. Columba was also given great power over unclean spirits, and many miracles he performed were reported.