Who is St. Columba?
Perhaps you are wondering who St. Columba was! St. Columba, also called Columcille, or Colum, (born c. 521, Tyrconnell [now County Donegal, Ireland]—died 597, Iona [Inner Hebrides, Scotland]; feast day June 9), was an abbot and missionary traditionally credited with the main role in the conversion of Scotland to Christianity.
Columba was ordained a priest about 551. He founded churches and the famous monasteries Daire Calgaich, in Derry, and Dairmagh, 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.
The Book of Kells and the Book of Durrow, great medieval masterpieces of Celtic art, are associated with Columba. 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.
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