Wednesday, June 9, 2010

St. Columba

"For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14

I don't normally have a personal relationship with certain saints, but St. Columba is an exception. When Mark and I traveled to Ireland several years ago, we went to visit Columba's shrine on a cold and wet February day. It was a rocky and muddy place, and the footing underneath was uneven and shaded. We did our best ans were passed by more vigorous pilgrims who were wearing shorts. Somehow I lost my balance and went tumbling some distance. We never did get to the shrine itself. But I will always have a close relationship with St. Columba because of that day.

O God, by the preaching of your blessed servant Columba you caused the light of the Gospel to shine in Scotland: Grant, we pray, that, having his life and labors in remembrance, we may show our thankfulness to you by following the example of his zeal and patience; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
St. Columba was born on December 7th in the year 521, at Tyrconnell now called County Donegal, Ireland and died on June 9th , 597, Iona or Inner Hebrides, Scotland. He was considered a great abbot and missionary and was traditionally credited with the main role in the conversion of Scotland to Christianity.
Columba studied under Saints Finnian of Moville and Finnian of Clonard and was ordained priest about 551. He founded churches and the famous monasteries Daire Calgaich, in Derry, and Dair-magh, in Durrow. Columba and his 12 disciples erected a church and a monastery on the island of Iona (c. 563) as their springboard for the conversion of Scotland. It was regarded as the mother house and its abbots as the chief ecclesiastical rulers even of the bishops. Columba gave formal benediction and inauguration to Aidan MacGabrain of Dunadd as king of Dalriada. Columba accompanied Aidan to Ireland (575) and took a leading part in a council held at Druim Cetta, which determined the position of the ruler of Dalriada in relation to the king of Ireland. The last years of Columba's life appear to have been spent mainly in Iona, where he was already revered as a saint. He and his associates and successors spread the gospel more than any other contemporary group of religious pioneers in Britain. Three Latin hymns may be attributed to Columba with some degree of certainty. Excavations in 1958 and 1959 revealed Columba's living cell and the outline of the original monastery.
St. Columba's manner of living was always most austere. He lay on the bare floor with a stone for his pillow, and never interrupted his fast. Yet his devotion was neither morose nor severe. His countenance always appeared wonderfully cheerful, and bespoke to all that beheld him the constant interior serenity of his holy soul, and the unspeakable joy with which it overflowed from the presence of the Holy Ghost. Such was his fervor, that in whatever he did, he seemed to exceed the strength of man; and us much as in him lay he strove to suffer no moment of his precious time to pass without employing it for the honor of God, principally either in praying, reading, writing, or preaching. His incomparable mildness and charity towards all people, and on all occasions, won the hearts of all who conversed with him; and his virtues, miracles, and extraordinary gift of prophecy, commanded the veneration of all ranks of people. He was of such authority, that neither king nor people did any thing without his consent.

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