The Venerable Columba, Abbot of Iona (+597)

ST COLUMBA (also known as Columcille, meaning ‘Dove of the Church’) was born in Donegal on December 7, 521 to noble Irish parents. He became a monk and was soon ordained priest. Tradition asserts that, sometime around 560, he became involved a dispute over the right to copy an edition of the Psalter The dispute eventually led to the Battle of Cul Dremhe in 561, during which many men were killed. As a penance for these deaths, Columba was ordered to make the same number of new converts as had been killed in the battle. He was also ordered to leave Ireland and move such that he could not see his native country.

He travelled to Scotland, where it is reputed he first landed at the southern tip of the Kintyre peninsula, near Southend. However, being still in sight of his native land he moved further north up the west coast of Scotland. In 563 he founded a monastery on the island of Iona off the west coast of Scotland which became the centre of his evangelising mission to Scotland. There are many stories of miracles which he performed during his mission to convert the Picts, the people who dwelt in Scotland in those days. In one story in his life, in 565 the saint came across a group of Picts who were burying a man killed by a monster that lived in the waters of Loch Ness, and brought the man back to life. In another version, he is said to have saved the man while he was being attacked, driving away the monster with the sign of the cross.

The primary source on the life of St. Columba is the Life of St. Columba, a hagiography by St. Adamnan of Iona St Columba is believed to be buried together with St Patrick and St Brigid of Kildare in Downpatrick in County Down, deep within the famous Hill of Down. His feast day is June 9.