Yesterday, June 9, was the feast day of St. Columba, Abbot of Iona. St. Patrick was said to have prophesied Columba’s birth:
He will be a saint and will be devout,
He will be an abbot, the king of royal graces,
He will be lasting and for ever good;
The eternal kingdom be mine by his protection.
That’s a lot of pressure! But Columba lived up to it, becoming a monk in his native Ireland, and then a missionary and a priest. He founded several monasteries in Ireland, and then headed to Northern Britain to evangelize further. Legend has it that his tiny boat first washed ashore on the Isle of Iona, on the coast of Scotland.
Columba founded his last monastery on Iona which became the home base for his missionaries who spread out to found monasteries of their own. Columba himself traveled extensively and ministered well into his 70s. He was reported to have died peacefully in 597, with a smile on his face, while in the midst of copying the Psalter.
Although the monastery on Iona was desecrated during the Reformation, it is now home to an ecumenical community – a good reminder that although times change, God finds a way to keep engaging communities of the faithful! Here is the blessing they offered for St. Columba’s Day 2020, which seems quite useful for 2022 as well:
“In these difficult times, we pray that you would know the deep and strong presence of Christ surrounding, holding and keeping you in whatever situations you find yourself.”