Saturday 17 June 2017

Saint Colum Cille: A Farewell Prayer

As this is the octave day of the feast, we bid farewell to the festival of Saint Colum Cille  with a farewell prayer from our Irish Redemptorist:


 May his children hear his voice and follow in his steps. 

 May we love this loving Saint, and invoke him in our prayers. May his name be given to our Irish children that he may protect them. May his Feast Day, the Ninth of June, be kept holy throughout the Land — a day of prayer and supplication for Ireland and Scotland, a day of rejoicing for our young people in University and College, and in every one of Ireland’s schools. — 
May school and pulpit celebrate each year the glories of St. Columcille’s life. May Ireland’s own Music and Language and Literature be used to praise and glorify him. May Ireland’s new Bards awake and sing the glories of their own Columcille. 

 Columcille is dead, but may Ireland’s love for him never die, and may his protection never fail us; may his memory never perish, nor his spirit depart from our Land! Amen! Amen!

The Life of Saint Columcille in In Irish and English by a Redemptorist Father (Dublin, 1907), 121. 

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Friday 16 June 2017

Saint Colum Cille: 'another Saint John on Patmos'

During the four extra years of life granted to Saint Colum Cille he exercised his gift of prophecy to the full, including the sight of people passing from this world to the next:


 During these four years Columcille was wrapt up in the contemplation of God and heavenly things, and he saw many wonderful things. 

 He exclaimed one day: “I see the soul of Columbanus, the smith, ascending to heaven in the company of the angels! He merited heaven by the labour of his hands and his charity to the poor.” 

 On another occasion he exclaimed in a transport: “O happy woman! O, happy woman! The angels carry your soul to heaven in reward of your virtues.” And after a year Columcille was again heard to say: “I see the soul of that blessed woman coming down from heaven to meet the soul of her husband at death’s hour. See! she is helping the angels to fight the demons who are striving to gain possession of his soul. They have failed! The soul is saved!” 

 He saw the soul of St. Brendan, of Birr, going up to heaven in great glory. Such was the splendour of Brendan’s soul that Columcille saw that it illuminated the whole world. He directed his monks to celebrate a solemn High Mass to thank God for Brendan’s happiness. 

He said a Mass of Thanksgiving for the happy death of the holy Bishop Coleman; and he also saw his soul ascend gloriously to heaven. 

St. Columcille was indeed another St. John in his Island of Patmos, and God revealed to him in Iona many wonderful things about this world and the world to come. 

The Life of Saint Columcille in In Irish and English by a Redemptorist Father (Dublin, 1907), 110-111.

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Thursday 15 June 2017

Saint Colum Cille: The Golden Moon Sinking

The hagiographers present Saint Colum Cille as anxious to depart this world and to take his place in heaven. The people among whom he lived, however, had different ideas:


Our dear and blessed Saint was now drawing towards his end. The golden moon, that so long shone bright and full over Ireland and Scotland, was waning — fading away into the glorious dawn of God’s eternal day. 

With St. Paul, our Saint desired to be dissolved and so be with Christ. 

He appeared one day very joyful. Soon, however, he seemed to grow downcast and sad. Two monks were present, Lugbeus from Ireland, and Pilu from England. They asked him why, after such great joy, he became so strangely sad. “I will tell you,” he said, “but promise not to reveal now what I am going to say. With my whole heart I asked God,” he continued, “to let me die when I should have lived thirty years in Scotland, and the Lord heard my prayer; and He had sent angels to bear away my soul after my approaching death. But alas! God has now yielded to the prayers of the Faithful, and has prolonged my life for four years more.”

The Life of Saint Columcille in In Irish and English by a Redemptorist Father (Dublin, 1907), 108-9. 

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Wednesday 14 June 2017

Saint Colum Cille and Connla the Craftsman

Continuing the series of vignettes from the Life of Saint Colum Cille with the story of Connla the Craftsman. Here Saint Colum Cille uses another of his extraordinary gifts, that of raising the dead to life:


 About this same period he worked a wonderful miracle. There then lived an exceedingly artistic and accomplished man, whose name was Connla. He dwelt in a place known of old as Dim Cruitre (Fort of the Picts), but now called Screen Columcille, or Ardmagilligan. Connla was making a shrine, an exquisite shrine indeed, but, unfortunately, he died before it was completed. When Columcille beheld the unfinished shrine, he greatly desired to see it completed in all its beauty. He was aware, however, there was no artist in Ireland capable of completing the work in all its perfection. An inspiration came into his mind. He went to Connla’s grave, stood before it, and he cried out: “O Connla, in the name of Jesus Christ, arise from the dead ! ”And behold! he that was dead arose full of life and health, and all who were present were filled with awe and amazement and they praised God for His wonderful works. Conla finished the beautiful shrine, and lived to a good old age. 

 The tradesmen and artists of Ireland of that time could not be surpassed by any others in the whole world, and, by God’s blessing, the time is near when the same can be said once more.

The Life of Saint Columcille in In Irish and English by a Redemptorist Father (Dublin, 1907) ,39. 

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Tuesday 13 June 2017

Saint Colum Cille and the Duel Fought in Ireland

Yesterday we looked at the granting of the gift of prophecy to Saint Colum Cille and today we see an example of this gift in use as our saint, although in Iona, is able to witness events in Ireland:


Columcille one day appeared very sad and troubled. “ What ails you, father ?” said the monks to him. “Alas,” he answered, “ two noblemen are just now fighting a duel in Ireland. They have wounded each other. They are dying.” And such had really happened, as they learnt afterwards. 

“Father,” asked a monk, “how do you get knowledge of hidden things like these?” “There are people,” said Columcille, “and they see the whole world lit up most brilliantly as in one glorious sunbeam.” He was speaking of himself: for it was given him to see everything in the light of God. In the same way, we are told, he saw fire falling from heaven on a town in Italy, destroying its inhabitants on account of their wickedness.

The Life of Saint Columcille in In Irish and English by a Redemptorist Father (Dublin, 1907), 103. 
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Monday 12 June 2017

Saint Colum Cille's Angelic Gifts

In Irish tradition Saint Colum Cille had quite a reputation for prophecy, and in today's vignette we see that this was a gift bestowed on him directly by God:


 The Angel appeared again on another day and said: “Beg of God to grant you the three gifts that please you most, and He will give them to you.” “That is good news,” answered Columcille, “and I choose Virginity and Wisdom.” “You made a good choice,” said the Angel; “and you will get in addition to these the gift of Prophecy.” 

No sooner had the Angel left him than there came three most beautiful maidens, and showed by their manner a desire to speak to him. Columcille retired a little to let them pass, for he did not know them. But presently he summoned up courage and addressed them respectfully, asking them who they were. “We are three sisters,” said they, “and the companions offered to you by our father.” “And who is your father?” inquired Columcille. “The Saviour of the World,” said they. “And what are your names?” asked Columcille. “Our names are "Virginity, Wisdom and Prophecy, and we shall be with you always.” They then disappeared from his sight.

 From that day forward Chastity and Wisdom shone in all his words and actions, and God bestowed upon him the gift of Prophecy to foretell future events.

The Life of Saint Columcille in In Irish and English by a Redemptorist Father (Dublin, 1907). 

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Sunday 11 June 2017

Saint Colum Cille's Angel

We begin the series of vignettes from the hagiography of Saint Colum Cille with a story of his boyhood and the angel 'Auxil' sent to protect him:


 St. Columcille was so holy God took special care of him, and sent a particular Angel to guard and assist him. Auxil (which means “help”) was the Angel’s name. 

 On a certain night this Angel, clothed in shining raiment, came, and thus addressed the holy boy : “God be with you! Do manfully, and prepare your soul. God has placed you under my care in order that I may guide and protect you in all things, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” 

 “Who are you, and whence are you?” asked the young boy. The Angel answered: “My name is Auxil on account of the care I must take of you. I must guard you against the deceits of the devil, the world, and the flesh.” Columcille then inquired of him: “Do all the Angels appear as bright, as young, and as beautiful as you do?” The Angel made answer: “My garments and the garments and glory of the Angels are so beautiful, so noble, so splendid, that you could not behold them in this life ; and you should die if you were to behold the glory of the Angels as they are in heaven. If you wish, however, to wear my shining garments, and to share my glory, lead a holy life and practise virtue.” 

 “That I will do,” said Columcille; “and now sign my heart and my whole body with the sign of the Holy Cross.” The Angel did so, and disappeared from the boy’s sight. A great change came over Columcille from that time forward, and he became more faithful and diligent in the service of God.

The Life of Saint Columcille in In Irish and English by a Redemptorist Father (Dublin, 1907)

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Saturday 10 June 2017

Naomh Columcille: Saint Columba

I recently checked in with the Internet Archive to see if they had brought any fresh materials on the Irish saints into the public domain and was rewarded with a Life of Saint Columba published in 1907 by an Irish Redemptorist priest. The text was issued in both Irish and English on facing pages, the Archive attributes the Irish text to Micheál O'Floinn.  Our anonymous Redemptorist starts by setting out his attitude to hagiography, coming down firmly on its side rather than that of history. He was, of course, writing in 1907 just after the Bollandist Father Delehaye published his critical approach to the study of the saints in the seminal work The Legends of the Saints. Delehaye himself was aware of the tensions his modernist scholarship raised for those who had a less critical approach to the saints for as he relates:
One of my first copies of The Legends of the Saints had a reception I was far from expecting. The friend who had recieved the complimentary copy informed me that he would put it in his library, but that he would never read it. "What do you expect?", he said, "I love the legends of the saints, and I do not want anything to spoil my pleasure in them".
It's a sentiment our Irish Redemptorist would have understood and indeed it's one I am aware of myself. So one hundred and ten years on from the publication of this bilingual Life of Saint Columba I intend to bring a selection of episodes drawn from the hagiography of Saint Colum Cille used in the book to celebrate the feast until the octave day. And to unashamedly enjoy them!
A Foreword to my Readers. 
THE Life of this great Saint is not written in a way to recommend it to many whose opinions lead in certain literary circles to-day, I offer no apology. “ Let every man abound in his own sense.” 
History is written in two ways. Both have their merits and their faults. The one, with a kindly trust in the honesty of those who have gone before, accepts his authorities as he finds them, and so shapes his tale — this I have done. The other sifts and sifts to find out what he calls the exact truth, acting in the process as if witnesses were more likely to be telling lies than truth. As a result he presents often dry and not too sweet-smelling bones which he calls history, overlooking the fact that in the telling of his tale he may be as much the victim of preconceived ideas as the mediaeval chronicler he laughs to scorn. 
But is not my plan a-playing fast and loose with truth if I do not think so. What comes from the past you may call legends if you will, but in the old sense of the word “legenda,” things to be read. Read, then, dear reader, my story of Columcille. All that is here written may or may not be well founded, yet those who handed us down these accounts were as worthy of credence as the men who to-day laugh at what they are pleased to call childish credulity. 
No doubt the miraculous will figure largely in this little book, but not too largely for those who believe that “God is wonderful in His saints”.
We present the Life of St. Columcille in Irish to the Gaels of Ireland and Scotland, in English to the Saxons. He laboured much for Gael and Scot and Saxon, and loved them well. May this Life help them to know and love him. 
The truly marvellous success of “Naomh Pádraig” gives me, indeed, good hope that “Naomh Columcille,” too, will make our Saint better known and better loved. 
St. Patrick's, Esker, Athenry,
Feast of St Columcille, 1907.
The Life of Saint Columcille in In Irish and English by a Redemptorist Father (Dublin, 1907). 

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Friday 9 June 2017

The Feast of Saint Colum Cille, June 9

A.Steadman, Our Island Saints (1912)

Flaming June, aptly indeed, is the month in which St Colmcille's feast-day falls. Bright as fire was the nature of that princely saint. How vividly the race always remembered him!

Aodh de Blacam, 'St Colmcille as Poet', in The Irish Monthly, Vol. 67, No. 792 (Jun., 1939), p. 425.

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