Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Saint Columba

Colum Cille, the "dove of the church", or Saint Columba landed in Iona in 563AD.  He passed away on June 9th, in 597AD.  During the 34 years he lived in Scotland, his missionary work introduced Christianity to the Picts. 

Of Irish extraction, Columba came to Scotland with 12 fellow monks, all of whom lived an ascetic life.  He established his church on the island of Iona.  As his life drew to a close, he is said to have that fact, and so walked into his church, and breathed his last by the altar.

References to St. Columba occur frequently in Scottish texts, often associated with Iona.  Walter Scott refers to him in the poem "Glenfinlas":

...'Twas Moy; whom in Columba's isle
The seer's prophetic spirit found,
As with a minstrel's fire the while,
He waked his harp's harmonious sound.

Full many a spell to him was known,
Which wandering spirits shrink to hear;
And many a lay of potent tone,
Was never meant for mortal ear.

For there, 'tis said, in mystic mood,
High converse with the dead they hold,
And oft espy the fated shroud,
That shall the future corpse enfold.

O so it fell, that on a day,
To rouse the red deer from their den,
The Chiefs have ta'en their distant way,
And scour'd the deep Glenfinlas glen....

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