St Columba-Colmcille-of Iona 9 June 2017

Patron of Christ Our Hope

Jun 9 – St Columba (Colmcille) of Iona (2), 521-597

Posted:09 June, 2012

St Colmcille is one of the three patron saints of Ireland along with St Patrick and St Brigid. He initiated the movement known as the peregrinatio pro Christo – emigration in adventure for Christ.


St Colmcille is one of the three patron saints of Ireland along with St Patrick and St Brigid. He initiated the movement known as the peregrinatio pro Christo – emigration in adventure for Christ –  monks from Ireland went into voluntary exile and so became also missionaries in Britain and the continent. Patrick Duffy tells his story.

Colmcille was born at Gartan, Co Donegal and belonged to the Cenél Conaill, a branch of the Uí Néill dynasty. His father was Feidhlimidh and his great grandfather was Niall Naoi nGiallach who brought St Patrick as a slave to Ireland and gave his name to the Uí Néill. His mother was Eithne, a  princess  from Leinster where Christianity was well established.

Training as a bard
He was christened Criomhthann, meaning ‘fox’, and though he may have retained some fox-like traits, as a young boy he would often be found in prayer and so was soon given the name Colmcille (‘the dove of the church’). Fostered first to a holy man called Cruithnechan near Kilmacrennan, he then went to Leinster to a Christian bard called Gemman, which accounts for his later closeness to the filidh.

Training as a monk
Colmcille then went for monastic formation to St Finian’s monastery at Movilla on Strangford Lough, Co Down, where he studied theology and learned the art of copying and illuminating manuscripts. Here he became a deacon and later went on to complete his education with St Mobhi at Glasnevin, Enda of Aran and Finian of Clonard. Here he became friends with St Canice of Dungiven and St Comgall of Bangor.

His own foundations in Ireland

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Source: Jun 9 – St Columba (Colmcille) of Iona (2), 521-597 – catholic ireland . net

Second Source: Celtic and old English Saints

St. Columcille of Iona (Columba, Colum, Columbus, Combs, Columkill, Colmcille)

Born in Garton, County Donegal, Ireland, c. 521; died June 9, 597.

Alone with none but Thee, my God,
I journey on my way;
What need I fear when Thou art near,
Oh King of night and day?
More safe am I within Thy hand
Than if a host did round me stand.

–Attributed to Saint Columba

We know for certain that Columba left successors distinguished for their purity of life, their love of God, and their loyalty to the rules of the monastic life. –The Venerable Bede

Ireland has many saints and three great ones: Patrick, Brigid, and Columba. Columba outshines the others for his pure Irishness. He loved Ireland with all his might and hated to leave it for Scotland. But he did leave it and laid the groundwork for the conversion of Britain. He had a quick temper but was very kind, especially to animals and children. He was a poet and an artist who did illumination, perhaps some of those in the Book of Kells itself. His skill as a scribe can be seen in the Cathach of Columba at the Irish Academy, which is the oldest surviving example of Irish majuscule writing. It was latter enshrined in silver and bronze and venerated in churches.

About the time that Patrick was taken to Ireland as a slave, Columba was born. He came from a race of kings who had ruled in Ireland for six centuries, directly descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages, and was himself in close succession to the throne. From an early age he was destined for the priesthood; he was given in fosterage to a priest. After studying at Moville under Saint Finnian and then at Clonard with another Saint Finnian, he surrendered his princely claims, he became a monk at Glasnevin under Mobhi and was ordained. [ read more]