Saint Columba

Once upon a time there lived a tribe. They lived in a place near Garten Lough, Donegal. The king of this clan was called Phelim MacFergus.

One night the king was being very impatient as his wife was having a baby. When the baby was finally born, both proud parents stood over the baby boy. "We shall call him Columba," said the mother.

Columba was born in Ireland in 521. His father belonged to the Ui Neill clan and was king of the district. Another member of the Ui Neill clan governed the southern region.

Columba led a normal life, even though he was the future king. He soon learned about another king, Jesus, from his guardian and decided that his life would be much more glorious if he served Jesus. So he gave up his luxurious life to serve God. Columba could easily have been the king of the district, but he decided not to be. Instead, he decided that he was going to be the servant of God. He wanted to spread the Lord's word.

Columba started learning about the Christian life from a priest, his guardian, whose name was Cruithnechan. He went to live in a monastery for a while. There, he met St. Finnian, a holy man who taught him about God. He learned to pray and developed a love for poetry. Because he spent long hours praying in the small chapel, he got the nickname 'Dove of the Church'.

When Columba was about forty years old a battle broke out between his clan and another clan. Columba faithfully prayed to God to help them and, because he believed so much, God listened to him. Columba prayed for hours that his father's clan would win and they won the battle of Culdreihmne thanks to Columba's prayers.

However, what Columba became famous for, was for converting and teaching the people of Scotland about Christianity. He set off for Iona. Some people say that it was because Columba had secretly taken Finnian's prized copy of the Gospels, and that when Finnian found out he took Columba before King Darmit, king of the south. King Darmit demanded that Columba should give back the copy to Finnian. Columba protested and his clan fought for him.

After the battle was over, Columba felt guilty about all the blood that had been shed and set off to repent. It is in Iona that Columba and his monks fasted and prayed. It was there that they tried to live out the gospel.

Columba prayed mostly in Iona with his brother monks. He made good friends and loved the other monks. He loved to live out the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was hard work living in Iona trying to grow crops, due to the bad weather. The winters were harsh, but Columba still loved Iona. Columba prayed for people who asked him to pray for them. When Columba was asking God to do things, God often did what he asked for.

Ireland's heritage, witnessed by the monastic foundations, Columba's love of learning, poetry and nature, all of these can now be seen in Celtic art. But Columba's life mostly revolved around love for Jesus and love for the gospel. Men and women must love the Church. We are all called to be 'Doves of the Church'.

Today, Scotland and Ireland claim St. Columba. He is remembered for converting Scotland to Christianity and his love for poetry. But what he would most want to be remembered for, is his love for Jesus and the gospel. He died in Iona on 9June, 597, at the age of seventy-six.

Casia Patel and Kelly Hine, Year 9
St. Michael's Convent School,
Barnet, North London.