Saint Columba
Patron of bookbinders, Ireland, poets, and Scotland
by Ann-Marie Imbornoni

St. Columba (521–597)
Also known as St. Columcille

Columba's family were Irish nobility, and from his youth he studied with the best teachers of his time in preparation for the priesthood. After ordination Columba spent some 15 years wandering throughout Ireland, working as an itinerant preacher and founding numerous monasteries, including those at Derry and Durrow.

Then, at the age of 42 he left his country for the island of Iona, where he and twelve followers founded a monastery. Columba and his monks spent the next several decades converting the Picts of northern Britain, who were greatly impressed by the miracles he performed. One of these miracles involved driving away a monster from the Ness River with the sign of the cross.

Columba is the Latin form of the Irish name Colum, which means "dove." Columcille means "dove of the church."


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