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St Columba (Colum Cille) of Iona

Source Wikipedia

Columba was born to Fedlimid and Eithne of the Cenel Conaill in Gartan, near Lough Gartan, in modern County Donegal, part of the Provinces of Ulster in the north of Ireland. On his father's side he was great-great-grandson of Niall of the Nine Hostages, an Irish high king of the 5th century. He was baptised in Temple-Douglas, in the County Donegal parish of Conwal (mid-way between Gartan and Letterkenny), by his teacher and foster-uncle Saint Crunathan.

In early Christian Ireland the druidic tradition collapsed due to the spread of the new Christian faith. The study of Latin learning and Christian theology in monasteries flourished. Columba became a pupil at the monastic school at Clonard Abbey, situated on the River Boyne in modern County Meath. During the sixth century, some of the most significant names in the history of Irish Christianity studied at the Clonard monastery. It is said that the average number of scholars under instruction at Clonard was 3,000. Twelve students who studied under St. Finnian became known as the Twelve Apostles of Ireland; Columba was one. He became a monk and eventually ordained a priest. During this time he is said to have founded a number of monasteries, including ones at Kells, Derry, and Swords.

St Columba (Colum Cille) of IonaTradition asserts that, sometime around 560, he became involved in a quarrel with Saint Finnian of Movilla Abbey over a psalter. Columba copied the manuscript at the scriptorium under Saint Finnian, intending to keep the copy. Saint Finnian disputed his right to keep the copy. The dispute eventually led to the pitched Battle of CĂșl Dreimhne in 561, during which many men were killed. A synod of clerics and scholars threatened to excommunicate him for these deaths, but St. Brendan of Birr spoke on his behalf with the result that he was allowed to go into exile instead. Columba suggested that he would work as a missionary in Scotland to help convert as many people as had been killed in the battle. He exiled himself from Ireland, to return only once, many years later.

Columba's copy of the psalter has been traditionally associated with the Cathach of St. Columba.
Scotland

In 563 he travelled to Scotland with twelve companions, where according to legend he first landed on the Kintyre Peninsula, near Southend. However, being still in sight of his native land he moved further north up the west coast of Scotland. In 563 he was granted land on the island of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland, which became the centre of his evangelising mission to the Picts. However, there is a sense in which he was not leaving his native people, as the Irish Gaels had been colonizing the west coast of Scotland for the previous couple of centuries. Aside from the services he provided guiding the only centre of literacy in the region, his reputation as a holy man led to his role as a diplomat among the tribes; there are also many stories of miracles which he performed during his work to convert the Picts. He visited the pagan King Bridei, King of Fortriu, at his base in Inverness, winning the Bridei's respect, although not his conversion. He subsequently played a major role in the politics of the country. He was also very energetic in his work as a missionary, and, in addition to founding several churches in the Hebrides, he worked to turn his monastery at Iona into a school for missionaries. He was a renowned man of letters, having written several hymns and being credited with having transcribed 300 books. One of the few, if not the only, times he left Scotland was towards the end of his life, when he returned to Ireland to found the monastery at Durrow.

Columba died on Iona and was buried in AD 597 by his monks in the abbey he created. In AD 794, the Vikings descended on Iona. Columba's relics were finally removed in AD 849 and divided between Scotland and Ireland.  The parts of the relics which went to Ireland are reputed to be buried in Downpatrick, County Down, with St. Patrick and St. Brigid or at Saul Church neighbouring Downpatrick. (Names of Iona), Inchcolm and Eilean Chaluim Chille.

Lasting legacy
Scotland

Columba is credited as being a leading figure in the revitalization of monasticism, and "His achievements illustrated the importance of the Celtic church in bringing a revival of Christianity to Western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire."[citation needed] It is known that Clan MacCallum and Clan Malcolm are descended from the original followers of Columba, It is also said that Clan Robertson are heirs of Columba. Clan MacKinnon may also have some claim to being spiritual descendants of St Columcille as after he founded his monastery on Isle Iona, the MacKinnons were the abbots of the Church for centuries. This would also account for the fact that Clan MacKinnon is amongst the ancient clans of Scotland.

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