Saint Columba

(St. Columba or Saint Colum Cille)

521 - 597

Irish missionary. Columba was born of royal blood in Donegal (Ireland), educated at Newtownards and became a monk. Having quarreled in his homeland, Columba was exiled. He set out for Scotland in a leather-covered coracle with twelve companions, arriving first at Keil on the Kintyre peninsula. He came to the island of Iona in 563 AD and founded a monastery in an attempt to convert the Gaels of Dalriada. Columba became an advisor to the Dalriadan kings and monastery provided an education for the royal princes. He also served a useful ambassador to the Picts and to Ireland. He is credited with several miracles, including his banishing of a 'water-beast' to the depths of Loch Ness. Over the years his influence spread as far the heartland of the Picts in the East of Scotland and to Lindisfarne in Northumbria.

He died on Iona and was buried in Iona Abbey, although his relics were later divided between Mainland Scotland and Ireland. Columba's reputation was established by Adomnán, the ninth Abbot of Iona, who wrote his Vita Colum Cille, describing the life of the Saint in detail. Today, he is regarded as Scotland's second Patron Saint after St. Andrew. Three surviving early Mediaeval Latin hymns have been attributed to him.

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