Today is the feast of St. Columba, also known as St. Columcille. St. Columba was born in 521 in Ireland. He was part of the royal family of Ireland at the time but his life was devoted to the Church from an early age. He was ordained a priest and founded many monasteries throughout Ireland. However, about the time he was in his early forties, a dispute arose over a coveted manuscript. St. Columba used his royal connections to raise up an army and do battle over the issue. His side was victorious, but about 3,000 souls were lost on the battlefield. Either as an imposed penance, or in remorse for his part in it all, St. Columba left Ireland and went to what is now Scotland to evangelize the Picts. He took 12 men with him in imitation of our Lord and founded a monastic community on the island of Iona, just off the coast of Scotland. He had resolved to win as many souls for the kingdom as were lost that day in the battle. History says he accomplished this goal and exceeded it. For the rest of his days he was a missionary. He was known for his prayers, study, evangelizing, and miracles. St. Columba died on June 9, 597, while attending the midnight prayers.
I first encountered St. Columba through a novel, the title of which I cannot remember. I read this long before becoming Catholic. Shortly after I became Catholic I had a series of events that were continuing to draw my attention to him. I decided to do some more research. I discovered that St. Columba and I shared a hot temper for which we had many occasions of regret. I also discovered he was about the age I was at the time when he began the work he is most known for- evangelizing Scotland. Since preaching the gospel has always been close to my heart I saw another connection between us. So I decided to take St. Columba as one of my patron saints. I ask for his prayers, especially that God would grant me a similar success to his in reaching the lost with the gospel of our Lord.
The Church does not officially list St. Columba's feast day as today. However, that's not unusual. Numerous saints share the same feast day, but only some are officially celebrated in the liturgy of the Church.
I invite you to find out more about St. Columba and join in celebrating his feast day today. May God grant to the Church of our own day a like missionary spirit to his that we may diligently preach His gospel and have the joy of bringing in a harvest of souls to the glory of His name!
St. Columba, pray for us!