9th June – Feast of St Columba (Colum Cille)

Today’s St Columba (Gaelic Colm Cille) was born in Gartan, in County Donegal, and was of royal lineage. He studied under Finnian of Moville and Finnian of Clonard. He founded monasteries at Derry, Durrow, and possibly Kells, before leaving Ireland as a missionary, “an exile for Christ.” His greatest foundation was Iona, from where he converted much of western Scotland, and his followers took the Gospel as far as northern England. He died at Iona in 597. He was renowned as a poet and scribe as well as a spiritual guide. In Gaelic literature he appears as Ireland’s most popular saint, noted for his great personal love of all creatures, both human and animal.

The following is a photo of the interior of the abbey church.

iona abbey

This is an extract from the Office of Readings written by his biographer Adomnan.

In the forty-second year of his age he sailed away from Ireland to Britain, wishing to be a pilgrim for Christ. During his life of thirty-four years as a soldier of Christ on the island of lona, he could not let even one hour pass that was not given to prayer or reading or writing or some other good work. Night and day he so unwearyingly gave himself to fasts and vigils that the burden of each single work seemed beyond the strength of man. Yet through all he was loving to everyone, his holy face was always cheerful, and in his inmost heart he was happy with the joy of the Holy Spirit.

When the end of his years was at hand, he gave his last commands to his brothers, saying: ‘I commend to you, my children, these last words of mine, that you keep among you unfeigned love with peace.’ Then when the bell was rung for the midnight office he arose quickly and went to the church, where he went in alone before the others and knelt down in prayer before the altar. Diormuit his attendant followed, and the whole community of monks ran in with lights; when they saw that their father was dying they began to lament. Then Diormuit raised the saint’s holy right hand, to bless the monastic company. At the same time the venerable father himself moved his hand, as well as he was able, and immediately after he had so expressed his holy blessing he breathed his last.

A related video is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2bpHIjaFgY.