ireland life iona king scots
COLUMBA, ST, was born on the 7th of December 521, and the place of his birth is supposed to hive been tartan, in the county of Donegal. Both on the father's and on the mother's side he was descended from princely families in Ireland, and Conal, king of the Scots in Northern Britain, was his kinsman. Some writers are of opinion that his original name was Crimthan, and that he received the surname of Columba from the dove-like simplicity of his character, but it is more probable that the latter was his baptismal name. He was afterwards known as Columbkille, or Columba of the Churches, to distinguish him from others of the same name. Ireland was already famous for the learned men who taught in its numerous monasteries ; and Columba studied for some time under one of the most distinguished of these, St Milian of Moville Almost as a matter of course, under such circumstances, he embraced the monastic life. He was ordained deacon while at Moville, and afterwards, when about thirty years of age, was raised to the priesthood. During his residence in Ireland he founded two famous monasteries, one named Dair Calgach, on the banks of Lough Foyle, the other Dair-magh irr Leinster, better known by their modern names of Derry and Darrow.
When upwards of forty years of age he left his native island, accompanied by twelve disciples, and went on a mission to Northern Britain. Argyll and the neighbouring islands were at this time portions of the Christian kingdom of the Scots, and from its sovereign Conal lie received the Island of Hy, or Iona, where he fixed his residence. His first task was to erect a church and monastery - humble structures of timber and reeds, according to the fashion of the country and the age. Having spent some years in preparation, he began the great work of his life, - the conversion of the heathen kingdom of the Northern Picts. Crossing over to the mainland he proceeded to the residence, on the banks of the Ness, of Brude, king of the Picts. By his preaching, his holy life, and, as his earliest biographers assert, by the performance of miracles, he converted the king and many of his subjects. The precise details, except in a few cases, are unknown, or obscured by exaggeration and fiction ; but it is certain that the whole of northern Scotland was converted by the labours of Columba and his disciples, and the religious instruction of the people provided for by the erection of numerous monasteries.
The monastery of Iona was reverenced as the mother house of all these foundations, and its abbots were obeyed as the chief ecclesiastical rulers of the whole nation of the Northern Picts. There were then neither dioceses nor parishes in Ireland and Celtic Scotland ; and by the Columbite rule the bishops themselves, although they ordained the clergy, were subject to the jurisdiction of the abbots of Iona, who, like the founder of the order, were only presbyters. The controversies connected with this subject are well known to the students of ecclesiastical history, and need not here be farther adverted to. Similar disputes have existed regarding the doctrines of Columba and his followers. This point also is beyond the range of the present article. It may be sufficient to mention that there is no real difficulty as to their belief in its general features. It was the same as that of the Western Church on the Continent, with which also their ritual agreed except in a few unimportant particulars, such as the precise time of keeping Easter. The confusion in these matters has been chiefly owing to the careless and incorrect identification of the Columbites with the clergy afterwards known by the name of Culdces.
Columba was honoured by his countrymen, the Scots of Britain and Ireland, as much as by his Pictish converts, and in his character of chief ecclesiastical ruler or primate he gave formal benediction and inauguration to Aldan, the successor of Conal, as king of the Scots. He accompanied that prince to Ireland in 590, and took a leading part in a council held at Drumceat in Ulster, where a controversy was settled which had existed between the king of Ireland and the sovereign of the British Scots. The last years of Colamba's life appear to have been spent at Iona. There he was already revered as a saint, and whatever credit may be given to some portions of the narratives of his biographers, there can be no doubt as to the wonderful influence which he exercised, as to the holiness of lris life, and as to the love which he uniformly manifested to God and to his neighbour.
In the sumin&. of 597 he knew that his end was approaching. On Saturday the 8th of June he was able, with the help of one of his monks, to ascend a little hill above the monastery and to give it his farewell blessing. Returning to his cell he continued a labour in which lie had been engaged, the transcription of the Psalter. Having finished the verse of the 34th Psalm where it is written, " They who seek the Lord shall want no manner of thing that is good," he said, " Here I must stop : - what follows let Baithen write;" indicating, as was believed, his wish that Baithen should succeed him as abbot. He was present at evening in the church, and when the midnight bell sounded for the nocturnal office early on Sunday morning he again went thither unsupported, but sank down before the altar and passed away as iu a gentle sleep.
The original materials for a life of St Columba are unusually full. The earliest biography was written by one of his successors, Cuminius, who became abbot of Iona in 657. Much more important is the enlargement of that work by Adamnan, who became abbot of Iona in 679. These narratives are supplemented by the brief but most valuable notices given by the Venerable Bede. The first modern writers who discussed the life and actions of Columba, with any approach to critical accuracy, were two learned clergymen of the Roman communion, - Thomas Innes, the Scottish antiquary, and Dr John Lanigan, the ecclesiastical historian of Ireland. Iu 1857 Dr Reeves, now dean of Armagh, published his edition of Adamnan's Life, enriched with notes and dissertations which throw light on all the events of the saint's personal history and on everything connected with the state of Celtic Britain at the time. Later still we have an account of Columba by Count Montalembert, who, in his third volume of the Monks of time West, gives us, to use Gibbon's well-known words about Pope's Homer, " a portrait endowed with every merit excepting that of likeness to the original." (a. a.)