521-597, Feast Day June 9

St. Columcille (also know as St. Columba) was born in Donegal Ireland and was of royal blood, and might have become high king of Ireland had he not chosen to become a priest. He studied at Moville under St. Finnian then in Leinster at the monastery of Clonard under another St. Finnian. He was ordained before he was twenty-five and spent the next 15 years preaching and setting up foundations at Derry, Durrow, and Kells. Possibly because of a family feud, which ended up in the death of 3000, which Columcille felt responsible for, he left Ireland in penance. He ended up in the colony of Dalriada, Scotland, on the west coast. With 12 companions he founded a monastery on Iona in the year 563. He spread the gospel to the Picts and also developed a monastic rule, which many followed until the introduction of St. Benedicts.

Columcille prophesied:
In Iona of my heart, Iona of my love,

Instead of monks’ voices shall be lowing of cattle,

But ere the world come to an end

Iona shall be as it was
It seems he was right form later Iona became the site of Benedictine Abbey and of a little Cathedral. These were both dismantled by the Scottish reformers in 1561.

Columcille was not only a man of the cloth but he was also a poet:


On some island I long to be,

a rocky promontory; looking on

the coiling surface of the sea.

To see the waves, crest on crest

of the great shining ocean, composing

a hymn to the creator, without rest.

To see without sadness the strand

lined with bright shells, and birds

lamenting overhead, a lovely sound.

To hear the whisper of small waves

against the rocks, that endless sea-

sound, like keening over graves.

To watch the sea-birds sailing

in flocks, and most marvelous

of monsters, the turning whale.

To see the shift from ebbtide

to flood and tell my secret name:

'He who set his back on Ireland.'


Clamour of the wind making music

in the elms:

Gurgle of the startled blackbird

clapping its wings.

I have lost the three settled places

I loved best:

Durrow, Derry's ledge of angels,

my native parish.

I have loved the land of Ireland

almost beyond speech;

to sleep at Comgall's, to visit Canice,

it would be pleasant!

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.