St. Columbanus of Ireland

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Columbanus of Ireland (543-615), was an Irish missionary notable for founding a number of monasteries after 590 in the Frankish and Lombard kingdoms in present day France and Italy. Columbanus taught an Irish monastic rule and penitential practices for those repenting of sins, which emphasised private confession to a priest, followed by penances levied by the priest in reparation for the sins. While in Italy, he immediately began refuting the teachings of Arianism, which had enjoyed a degree of acceptance in Italy. He wrote a treatise against Arianism, which has since been lost. At the king’s request, Columbanus wrote a letter to Pope Boniface IV on the controversy over the “Three Chapters”—writings by Syrian bishops suspected of Nestorianism, which had been condemned in the fifth century as heresy.  He also composed a commentary on the Psalms.  Columbanus died at Bobbio, Italy in 615. He prepared for death by retiring to his cave on the mountainside overlooking the Trebbia river, where, according to a tradition, he had dedicated an oratory to Our Lady. Columbanus is remembered as the first Irish person to be the subject of a biography. An Italian monk named Jonas of Bobbio wrote a biography of him some 20 years after Columbanus’ death.

Quotes and Excerpts:

“We Irish, though dwelling at the far ends of the earth, are all disciples of Saint Peter and Saint Paul … we are bound to the Chair of Peter, and although Rome is great and renowned, through that Chair alone is she looked on as great and illustrious among us … On account of the two Apostles of Christ, you are almost celestial, and Rome is the head of the whole world, and of the Churches.” -Edmonds, Columba (1908). “St. Columbanus”. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

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