Columba was born about the year 521, at Garton in Donegal, Ireland, of the Clan O’Donnell, and on both sides was of royal descent. In baptism he was named Colum, which in the Latin tongue is written Columba, and signifieth a dove. With many other lads, as was the custom of his day, he was brought up in a monastic school under the direction of Saint Finian, where for each, no matter what his rank might be, study was combined with prayer and manual work. In due time Columba became a monk and was ordained priest, and because of his much learning and many gifts, was partaker in the founding of many monasteries and churches ; wherefore he is sometimes called Columcille, which is, by interpretation, Columba of the churches. * It is said of Columba that he had a natural violence and pride of temper, which same was not clean put off albeit he put on the monastic habit. Wherefore, because he loved books overmuch, he once was drawn into dispute concerning the possession of one which he had copied without the knowledge of the possessor thereof, who laid claim to the same. When appeal was made to the king of that region, judgement was given that as a calf belongeth to the cow, so belongeth the copy to the original. In redress of this wrong, Columba stirred up his royal kinfolk, and a civil war did ensue, and many Christians were slain. Thereupon Columba (so it is said) sought his confessor, Saint Molaise, who imposed upon him the penance that he was to forsake Ireland, which he most dearly loved, and never return, but rather preach the Gospel amongst the heathen, so as to gain souls for Christ to the number of them that were slain in battle, which penance Columba accepted with great humility and sorrow. * In his forty-fourth year he departed from Ireland with twelve companions in a small wickerwork boat, covered with hides. And these thirteen men landed on a rocky island which afterwards came to be known far and wide as the Holy Isle of Iona. Here Columba founded a monastery which was the center of great missionary labours throughout all the western coast of Scotland, whereby were converted to Christ all the northern Picts and Scots. Whether or not the story be true that Columba entered upon his missionary labours as a penance, there is no question that he was a great apostle of souls, and that he became known for his humility, patience and gentleness, and that he never ceased to sorrow for his separation from his own kith and kin. At vesper time on Saturday, June 9the, in 597, forewarned of death, he went forth from the monastery, and climbed a hill, whence he blessed Iona Island and all his flock. At midnight he entered the church before the rest of his brethren, and at matins-time was found of them prostrate before the altar, where he breathed forth his soul to God, surrounded by his disciples.
Collect:We pray thee, O Lord, inspire our hearts with the desire of heavenly glory : and grant that we, bringing our sheaves with us, may thither attain where the holy Abbot Columba shineth like a star before thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.