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June 9

St Columba June 9

Saint Columba or
Saint Columbkille

Priest, Abbot

(521 – 597)

Alone with none but thee, my God,
I journey on my way.
What need I fear when thou art near,
Oh king of night and day?
More safe am I within thy hand
Than if a host did round me stand.

Saint Columba

Saint’s Life Story

His Early Life 

Columba was born on December 7, 521 to Fedlimid and Eithne in Gartan, a district beside Lough Gartan, in Tír Chonaill (mainly modern County Donegal) in the north of Ireland. When he was a boy, he was so often found praying in the town church that his friends called him Colm Cille (Dove of the Church). It was as Colm, or its Latin form Columba, that he was known for the rest of his life.  

Started Many Monasteries in Ireland

In his early 20s, Columba was strongly influenced by one of his teachers, Saint Finian of Clonard, and asked to be ordained a priest.   When a prince cousin gave him some land at Derry, he decided to start a Monastery.   Because of his love of nature, Columba refused to build the Church facing east, as was the custom, he wanted to spare the lives of as many oak trees as he could.   His foundation of another Monastery at Durrow 7 years later, was the beginning of an extraordinary decade during which he travelled through northern Ireland teaching about Christianity and inspiring many people by his personal holiness.   He founded some 30 Monasteries in those 10 years.


Columba’s strong personality and forceful preaching aroused considerable antagonism.   He was accused in 563 of starting a war between two Irish tribes and was sentenced by the high king never to see Ireland again, to spend the rest of his life in exile.   This battle it is believed, resulted over what is today seen, as the first Copyright dispute in history – Columba had become involved in a quarrel with Saint Finian of Movilla Abbey over a psalter.   Columba copied the manuscript at the Scriptorium under Finnian, intending to keep the copy.   Saint Finnian disputed his right to keep it.

Sained to Scotland

With 12 companions he sailed from the shores he loved and settled on a bleak island called Iona off the coast of Scotland.   The monks made occasional visits to the Scottish mainland, where they preached Christianity.  Soon their community had 150 members.

Respected His Exile

In 575, Columba was persuaded to visit Ireland to mediate a dispute between the high king and the league of poets.   Insisting on remaining faithful to the terms of his exile, that he never see Ireland again, he travelled blindfolded.   Although his sympathies were with the poets, his reputation was respected by everyone.   He spoke to the assembled nobles and clergy with such force and authority that the king was persuaded to reverse his original decree and the hostility between the two parties was calmed.

St Columba at desk - June 9

Life on Iona

Columba spent the rest of his life on Iona praying, fasting and teaching his monks to read and copy the Scriptures.   He provided inspiration for their Missionary efforts and was influential, in the politics of Scotland.   Long before his death in 597 he was regarded as a saint by his fellow monks and is today a beloved figure in Irish tradition.

His Death

Columba died in Iona, Scotland on June 9, 597 at the age of 75. He was buried in 597 by his monks in the Abbey he created.   His relics were removed in 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 Saint Patrick and Saint Brigid of Kildare and at Saul Church neighbouring Downpatrick.

Beatified:           Pre-Congregation

Canonized:        Pre-Congregation

Feast Day:          June 9

Patron Saint:     Ireland



It was in the second phase of Saint Columba’s life during his exile on Iona, that the grace of Christ really transformed Saint Columba to make of him the witness to Christ spreading Christianity in Scotland. While you may not be exiled in the second half of your life like Saint Columba, God’s grace, strength and wisdom can get you to great places spreading love and kindness to those around you.

What does God have in store for you in your second half of your life? Pray to God to find out. 


High King of Heaven,
Almighty Father of us all,
as your servant Saint Columba
established a community built on love and trust, so grant that in all humility
we may be your hands and your voices here on earth, working to build up the community of faith
in the name of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saint Columba, pray for us. Amen.

Source: St Columba Prayer | DAILY PRAYERS (

Saint Links 

Aleteia – How St. Columba Brought Catholicism and Civilization to Scotland

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 9 June – Saint Columba of Iona (521-597) Apostle of the Picts, Apostle to Scotland – Rev. Alban Butler. Volume VI: June. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. June 9 St. Columba, or Columkille, Abbot in Ireland

Catholic Ireland – Jun 9 – St Columba (Colmcille) of Iona (2), 521-597

Catholic News Agency – St. Columba of Iona Feast day: June 09

Catholic Online – St Columba

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Columba by Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998.

New Advent – Edmonds, C.(1908). St. Columba. in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Saints, Feast, Family – St Columba

Saint Mary’s Press – Saint Columba (521-597)

Wikipedia – Columba

Video Link

The Great Saint Columba – YouTube Video (The Story of Liberty)