Feast Day: November 23
Born: 543 :: Died: 615
St. Columban, the most famous of the Irish missionary-monks was born at West Leinster in Ireland. His family was wealthy and he received a good education.
As a handsome teenager, he had a great wish to serve God but he was also tempted by all the pleasures the world had to offer him. He finally decided to become a monk.
His mother could not bear the thought of him leaving her and she even blocked the door to stop him from leaving. However, Columban felt the call to serve God in a quiet monastery.
After many years as a monk in Ireland, Columban and twelve other monks sailed to France. There was a shortage of priests there at that time. The French people were inspired by the lives of the monks and came to them for prayer and healing.
These holy men did penance, prayed a lot and lived in charity. Many young men were attracted to this holy way of life. They came and asked to join the monks. Soon the monks were building other monasteries to house all the disciples of St. Columban.
There were some people, however, who thought the rules of these monks were too strict. St. Columban also faced danger when he spoke to the king about his sins. The king immediately put him in prison. Later, he and his Irish monks had to leave France.
St. Columban, though quite old, still tried to preach to unbelievers in Switzerland. When he was seventy, he went into Italy and defended the faith against the Arians who were against the Catholic teachings.
In his letters to Pope St. Boniface IV, St. Columban showed his great devotion to the Holy Father. He said, "All we Irish, living in the most distant parts of the earth, are bound to the Chair of St. Peter."
In his last years, St. Columban built the great monastery of Bobbio in Italy. Columbanus always enjoyed being in the forests and caves and as he walked through the woods, birds and squirrels would ride on his shoulders.
When he knew his time was near, he went into a cave alone and stayed there until he died on November 23, 615. After his death, both the Irish and the Italians were very devoted to this wonderful missionary.
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