Photo: "Skellig Michael" Copyright Irish Tourist Board.


  Favorite Monks: Columbanus (Columban)

Image: portion of illuminated manuscript page from "The Book of Kells."  

Photo: Statue of Columbanus. Columbanus

(543-Nov. 21, 615)

(St. Columbanus, Saint Columbanus, St. Columban, Saint Columban) _______________

Have you received Christ as your Lord and Saviour?

To learn how, see our page: 

The Plan of Salvation _______________

Image: Cross carved on a stone (found on Iona).

Tell others about Jesus like Columbanus did:

Though not all Christians are called to the ministry of an Evangelist, we are all called by God to share our faith (witness) with those who are not Christians.  Some Bible verses that you will find helpful for doing this, and that you may want to commit to memory are found on other pages on our  web site (see: Memory Verses; 2nd Set: Salvation!, Plan of Salvation, and Statement of Faith). _________________

By Monk Preston    

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?  and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?  and how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach, except they be sent?  as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!"

-Romans 10:13-15

"Let us, who are on the way; hasten home; for our whole life is like the journey of a single day.  Our first duty is to love nothing here; but let us place our affections above, our desire above, our wisdom above, and above let us seek our home; for the fatherland is where our Father is.  Thus we have no home on earth."


Celtic Irish Missionary Monk

Columbanus (543-Nov. 21, 615) was an Irish Christian monk who, with 12 other Celtic Christian monks who recognized him as their leader, went to France to preach the gospel, then to Germany, and finally to northern Italy, where he founded the monastery at Bobbio, which still stands today.

Columbanus was one of those missionary Irish Monks who traveled to the Continent to bring the Gospel back to those who had lost it due to the barbarian invasions and the fall of Rome; and also to take the Good News of Christ to pagan Europe where it had never before been preached (see the 2nd half of the book, How the Irish Saved Civilization (Book Review), for the story of how these Irish Missionary Monks took the Gospel to re-Christianize Europe).

Preaching to the Franks

He was born in West Leinster, in Ireland.  It is said that because he was so good-looking, many women tried to tempt him.  Desiring to live a holy Christian life, and to avoid this, he decided to take the cowl.  He became a monk at Lough Erne, where he was noted for his sanctity and learning. During his time there, he composed a commentary on the Psalms.

When he was forty years old, he felt God calling him to preach the Gospel in foreign lands.  He set sail with 12 fellow monks; preaching first in Scotland, then England.  Around 585 A.D. they arrived in Frankish territory (modern-day France).  They felt that here they were truly needed.  Much of what is now France was ruled by pagan barbarians, and what remained of the church was corrupt, and not interested in their duties of preaching the Gospel or teaching the people.  

Founding Monasteries

They settled in the ruins of the old Roman fortress of Annegray in the Vosges mountains.  They stayed for twenty years, founding two other monasteries as the number of monks who were drawn to join their community became too many for one location.  

Columbanus had a great reputation for holiness, zeal, and learning.  This caused people from all over France to travel to his monastery.  So many people were coming, and wanting to see Columbanus, that he went to live for years in a hidden cave; a single messenger connecting him to his monasteries.  It was here in the wilderness that the typically Celtic love of nature and animals is shown, with stories involving a bear, wolves, a squirrel, and birds spending time with Columbanus, the birds sitting on his shoulder, and the squirrel taking a rest in his cowl. ______________________________

See Also:

Image: The Prayer Foundation logo (with white Celtic cross on a green shield).

Persecution from A Corrupt Church Hierarchy

 Columbanus Celtic monasteries were experiencing phenomenal growth, with great numbers of monks coming to enter them, and vast numbers of pilgrims coming to visit them.  The envy, jealousy, and enmity of the Frankish Bishops was stirred, and they sought and obtained the help of the Bishop of Rome so that they could gain control over Columbanus and his three giant monasteries.  

The customs of the Celtic Christian Church had not placed their autonomous monasteries under the control of Bishops.  The whole of Christian (and Church) life was to be found in the monasteries, which were also centers for both public worship, schools, and missionary activity.  Bishops were largely irrelevant to the Christian life in Celtic areas, except in the not unusual case where the head of a monastery happened also to be one.

Missionary to the German and Swiss Tribes

The corrupt secular rulers of the area also were not pleased at being told the errors of their ways, and ordered Columbanus and his original twelve Irish monks back to Ireland.  They were placed on a ship sailing for Ireland,, but it was turned back to land by a great storm.  The Captain then put them ashore, saying that he refused to carry them.  

Columbanus and his little band of monks immediately took off for the mission fields of Germany and Switzerland.  They preached in Neustria, and at Metz in what is now modern-day Germany.  Of course there were no countries called Germany and Switzerland at this time.  These areas of forest and mountain were inhabited by idol-worshipping barbarian tribes called the Alemanni, and the Suevi.

An Irish Mission to Italy!

They preached near Lake Zurich, but were persecuted until driven away.  At Lake Constance they were better received; many received Christ.  A monastery was founded.  After a year, persecution again arose.  Columbanus left for Italy, arriving (625 A.D.) in Milan, where he founded the monastery of Bobbio  near Milan (still in existence today) and fought the Arian Heresy with correct Bible teaching (the Arians rejected the Deity of Christ).  If it seems odd that Celtic Irish Monks would feel called to the "mission field" of Italy, remember that Italy had been invaded by pagan barbarian hordes, and that Rome itself was at this time a de-populated heap of rubble.  In the midst of these piles of scattered stones, the Pope was living in "The Lateran."    Six-hundred years earlier it had been a part of the Emperor Nero's stables.


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