Lives to Inspire: Columba of Iona

Columba was an Irish Abbot credited with spreading Christianity to Scotland. Born a prince in County Donegal, he was steeped from early life in the Celtic monastic tradition and founded many monasteries in Ireland.  

In mid-life, Columba became involved in a dispute over copying a psalter, which is reputed to have led to a battle where many men were killed. Tradition tells that his remorse led him to leave Ireland, sailing in a currach (a small boat of wood and hide) to establish a monastic community on the island of Iona in Scotland.

Columba was energetic in missionary work, diplomacy and learning. Several miracles were attributed to him, including banishing a ferocious ‘water beast’ into the River Ness.

In the early church, there was a tradition of ‘peregrinato:’ leaving your homeland and wandering for the love of God. This touched the soul of Celtic Christians for whom place was so important. The Welsh word ‘hiraeth’ captures the feeling of homesickness, nostalgia and longing for a place irretrievably lost. Something is lost in leaving, but when done in faith it opens the God-given possibility of something fresh and new.

Books on Saint Columba

Saint Columba

Name: Columba or Colmcille

521: Born in Gartan, Donegal

c 540: Founded monastery in Derry

561: Was involved in Battle of Cul Dreimhne

c 563: sailed to Iona, Scotland

574-5: Attended Synod of Drum, Ireland

597: died in Iona

697-700: Adamnan wrote the life of St Columba

Quote from Saint

Were all the tribute of Scotia mine from its midland to its borders, I would give all for one little cell in my beautiful Derry.”

Attributed to Columba

Today’s Scripture

Mark 10: New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised

28 Peter began to say to him, ‘Look, we have left everything and followed you.’ 29
 Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news,30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.

Thought for the Day

Is God in some area of your life encouraging you to leave the familiar and set off into the new and unknown?