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About this commemoration
Many legends have gathered about Columba, but there are also some historical data concerning his many works in the writings of Bede and Adamnan. According to one story, Patrick of Ireland foretold Columba’s birth in a prophecy:
He will be a saint and will be devout,
He will be an abbot, the king of royal graces,
He will be lasting and for ever good;
The eternal kingdom be mine by his protection.
Columba was born in Ireland in 521, and early in life showed scholarly and clerical ability. He entered the monastic life, and almost immediately set forth on missionary travels. Even before ordination to the presbyterate in 551, he had founded monasteries at Derry and Durrow.
Twelve years after his ordination, Columba and a dozen companions set out for northern Britain, where the Picts were still generally ignorant of Christianity. Columba was kindly received, allowed to preach, convert, and baptize. He was also given possession of the island of Iona, where, according to legend, his tiny boat had washed ashore. Here he founded the celebrated monastery which became the center for the conversion of the Picts. From Iona, also, his disciples went out to found other monasteries, which, in turn, became centers of missionary activity.
Columba made long journeys through the Highlands, as far as Aberdeen. He often returned to Ireland to attend synods, and thus established Iona as a link between Irish and Pictish Christians. For thirty years, he evangelized, studied, wrote, and governed his monastery at Iona. He supervised his monks in their work in the ﬁelds and workrooms, in their daily worship and Sunday Eucharist, and in their study and teaching. He died peacefully while working on a copy of the Psalter. He had put down his pen, rested a few hours, and at Matins was found dead before the Altar, a smile on his face. He is quoted by his biographer Adamnan as having said, “This day is called in the sacred Scriptures a day of rest, and truly to me it will be such, for it is the last of my life and I shall enter into rest after the fatigues of my labors.”
I O God, who by the preaching of thy blessed servant Columba didst cause the light of the Gospel to shine in Scotland: Grant, we beseech thee, that, having his life and labors in remembrance, we may show forth our thankfulness to thee by following the example of his zeal and patience; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
II 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.
Psalm 97:1–2, 7–12
1 Corinthians 3:11–23
Preface of Apostles
From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.