Today, November 23rd is the Feast of our patron St Columbanus, Abbot (born – 540, died – 615 AD).
St Columbanus was born at the foot of Mount Leinster on the Carlow/Wexford border. He began his religious life as a monk at the monastery of Cleenish, Lough Erne, Co Fermanagh. Eventually, he moved to the great monastery at Bangor, Co Down, where he studied under St Comgall.
At 40 years of age, with Comgall’s blessing, he set out with twelve companions for Europe as a ‘peregrinus pro Christo’ (pilgrim for Christ), burning with urgent desire to preach the Gospel and make Christ known.
He ministered in France and Switzerland. His charisma and zeal inspired young men to become his companions and disciples. Under his guidance, they too became servants of God and evangelists. St Columbanus founded monasteries at Annegray, Luxeuil and Fontaine.
St Columbanus’ missionary influence was immeasurable in the Europe of his time. However, his uncompromising commitment to the ideals of the Gospel led to him falling foul of the Merogivian kingdoms of the Franks and his expulsion from France.
At 70 years old, he crossed the Alps into Northern Italy, founding the monastery of Bobbio, which would become an important religious centre in the 7th and 8th centuries. St Columbanus died at Bobbio on November 23rd, 615. His tomb there is an important place of pilgrimage today.
“Lord, grant me, I pray you, in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son, my God, that charity which does not fail, so that my lamp may be always lighted, never extinguished, and may burn for me and give light to others” (St Columbanus).
(Sincere thanks to Father Paddy McCafferty and the Brothers in CK69 for the image)