Monday 7 December 2015

Eithne's Cloak

December 7 is the Feast of the Birth of Saint Colum Cille. In the opening chapter of Book 3 of his Life of Saint Columba, Saint Adomnán records a beautiful vision which was granted to Saint Colum Cille's mother, Eithne, while she waited for his birth:

ON a certain night between the conception and birth of the venerable man, an angel of the Lord appeared to his mother in dreams, bringing to her, as he stood by her, a certain robe of extraordinary beauty, in which the most beautiful colours, as it were, of all the flowers seemed to be portrayed. After a short time he asked it back, and took it out of her hands, and having raised it and spread it out, he let it fly through the air. But she being sad at the loss of it, said to that man of venerable aspect,  "Why dost thou take this lovely cloak away from me so soon?" He immediately replied, "Because this mantle is so exceedingly honourable that thou canst not retain it longer with thee." When this was said, the woman saw that the forementioned robe was gradually receding from her in its flight; and that then it expanded until its width exceeded the plains, and in all its measurements was larger than the mountains and forests. Then she heard the following words: "Woman, do not grieve, for to the man to whom thou hast been joined by the marriage bond, thou shalt bring forth a son, of so beautiful a character, that he shall be reckoned among his own people as one of the prophets of God, and hath been predestined by God to be the leader of innumerable souls to the heavenly country." At these words the woman awoke from her sleep.

William Reeves, D.D., M.R.I.A., ed., Life of Saint Columba, Founder of Hy, Written by Adamnan, Ninth Abbot of That Monastery, The Historians of Scotland, Vol. VI. (Edinburgh, 1874), 78-79.

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