Saint Columban

November 23

c. 540-615

Born in West Leinster, Ireland, sometime between 540 and 550, he decided as a boy to dedicate himself to God despite his mother's objection. He lived for time on an island in Lough Erne, with a monk named Sinell, and then became a monk at Bangor. With twelve others he was sent as a missionary to Gaul about 585. He built his first monastery at Annegray five years later, and it was so successful, that he followed it with two more. Soon his followers had spread throughout Europe, building monasteries in France, germany, Switzerland, and Italy.

He aroused much opposition, especially from the Frankish bishops, by the Celtic usages he installed in his monasteries and for refusing to acknowledge the bishops' jurisdiction over them. He defended his practices in letters to the Holy See. In 610 King Theodoric II of Burgandy became angered because the Saint had denounced his refusal to marry, but rather kept concubines; so he ordered all Irish monks banished from his realm. Columban was shipwrecked on the way to Ireland but was offered refuge by King  Theodebert II at Metz and began to evangelize around Bregenz on lake Constance. Although successful, he was again banished in 612, when Burgandy and Metz were at war. Theodoric now ruled where Columban was working, so Columban decided to flee his old adversary, crossing the Alps to Italy, where he was welcomed by the Lombardic king. Columban founded monasteries at Bobbio, between Milan and Genoa, which became one of the great monasteries of its time-----a center of culture, learning, and spirituality. He died there on November 23. St. Columban is known for his Monastic Rule, sermons, poetry, and his treatises against the Arian heresy.


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