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Stained glass window in Iona Abbey showing Saint Columba

Saint Columba (Irish Colm Cille, "Columb of the Church"[1]; 7 December, 521–9 June, 597[2]) was an Irish priest and missionary.[3] He left Ireland in 563 AD on his mission to bring Christianity to Dál Riata, now western Scotland.[4] He built the famous monastery on the Island of Iona which became known as a "holy island'.[4]

Early life

Columba was born on December 7, 521 A.D. in Gartan, County Donegal.[3] His his father was Fedhlimidh, a great-grandson of Niall of the Nine Hostages, 4th century High King of Ireland.[5] His mother was Eithne of the Uí Néill clan.[3] She was a member of the royal family of Leinster.[5] While still young he decided on a monastic life. He was educated in Ireland at schools in Moville, Glasnevin and Clonard Abbey.[6] He founded the Irish monasteries at Derry and at Durrow, County Offaly.[6]

Iona

In about 563 AD, Columba and his followers left Donegal by boat and traveled to the island of Iona off the west coast of Scotland.[7] His mission to Scotland may have been more a case of penance for a battle he may have caused.[8] He refused to return a copy of the Gospels he had copied without permission. He upset the king of Ireland by his refusal, which led to a battle won by his clan.[8] Columba felt remorse over the deaths this caused.[8] Once there he and his monks began the religious conversion of most of Scotland which at that time was pagan.[8] Their fame and influence spread to most of Europe. It became a place of pilgrimage. It also became known as a holy island where 48 kings of Scotland, 4 kings of Ireland and 8 kings of Norway are buried.[8] In 597 Comumba died on Iona.[9] Books on his life began being written a century later. The best known of these was written by Adomnán sometime between 697 and 700. He was proclaimed a saint before the modern process of canonization.

References

  1. Edward Sullivan, The Book of Kells (London; The Studio, Ltd., 1920), p. 2
  2. C. Edmonds. "St. Columba". The Catholic Encyclopedia. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04136a.htm. Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Medieval Sourcebook: Adamnan: Life of St. Columba, Introduction [Seth Seyfried"]. Fordham University. http://legacy.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/columba-e.asp. Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "St Columba (Colum Cille)". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/scottishhistory/earlychurch/features_earlychurch_iona.shtml. Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 'Saint Columba ', Ulster Journal of Archaeology, First Series, Vol. 6 (1858), p. 3
  6. 6.0 6.1 George R Crooks; John Fletcher Hurst, Library of biblical and theological literature, Volume VII (New York: Eaton & Mains, 1900), pp. 621–22
  7. Ian Bradley, Columba: Pilgrim and Penitent (Glasgow: Wild Goose Publications, 1996), p. 15
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Ben Johnson. "St Columba and the Isle of Iona". Historic UK. http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofScotland/St-Columba-the-Isle-of-Iona/. Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  9. Martin Wallace, Celtic Saints (San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, 1995), p. 39

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