SAINT COLUMBAN, A.K.A. COLUMBANUS (CIRCA 540-615)
Roman Catholic Monk, Abbot, and Missionary
St. Columban(us) was one of the great Celtic saints and founders of monasteries. Born in West Leinster, Ireland, the saint dedicated his life to God over his mother’s objections. He became a monk before embarking on a missionary journey to Gaul (modern-day France) in 585. There he founded his first monasteries and spearheaded a movement to found monasteries across Europe. The saint’s use of Celtic, as opposed to certain Roman practices, such as the calculation for the date of Easter, aroused much opposition among Frankish bishops, whose jurisdiction he interpreted as not including him.
St. Columban(us) made an enemy of King Theodoric II of Burgundy (along the modern French-Italian border), who preferred a concubine to a wife. The monarch banished all Irish monks from his realm in 610. The saint, shipwrecked on the way to Ireland, found refuge with King Theodebert II of Neustria (mostly in modern-day northern France) and began to evangelize in the area of Lake Constance (in modern-day Switzerland). The saint reestablished Christianity in that region. Among the monks who joined the retinue of St. Columban(us) founded there was St. Gall, whose name lives on in a place-name and a great abbey. From that place great works for God took place. (https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2011/01/26/feast-of-st-tutilo-march-28/ and https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2011/02/06/feast-of-nokter-balbulus-april-5/)
Alas, the saint had to flee to Italy in 612, for Theodoric II of Burgundy conquered Neustria. So St. Columban(us) found refuge in Milan, where King Agilulf of the Lombards ruled. The saint founded the great monastery at Bobbio, between Genoa and Milan. He died at that monastery on November 21 or 23, 615. (The books of saints and the old encyclopedias I consulted disagreed about the date of his death.)
St. Columban(us) left his Monastic Rule (an especially austere one), poems, and sermons behind. He also went down in history as a proponent of Catholic orthodoxy with regard to the nature of Jesus; the saint denounced Arianism, a heresy which remains, unfortunately. (The Jehovah’s Witnesses are Arians.)
St. Columban(us) was a man of great learning, as his writings reveal. He devoted his intellect and energies to the service of God, and many people became Christians (directly or indirectly) because of him. From the monasteries the saint founded emerged saints, missionaries, and great scholars who kept the flames of knowledge and Christianity alive during the Middle Ages. Some of the saints and missionaries founded other monasteries, which continued the good work. You, O reader, and I have callings distinct from that of St. Columban(us), but we do share with him a basic vocation: to devote our intellects and energies to the service of God. Where will your vocation take you, and what will your legacy be?
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
OCTOBER 29, 2011 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF CLARENCE JORDAN, RENEWER OF SOCIETY
THE FEAST OF JAMES HANNINGTON AND HIS COMPANIONS, ANGLICAN MARTYRS
THE FEAST OF JOHN BUCKMAN WALTHOUR, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ATLANTA
The Collect and Readings for a Missionary from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), the hymnal and worship book of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
God of grace and glory,
we praise you for your servant Saint Columban(us),
who made the good news known in France, Switzerland, and Italy.
Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds of the gospel,
so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of your love,
and be drawn to worship you,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen.