Celebrated on November 23rd
Ireland's sixth century missionary to Europe. Born in Leimster in Ireland around 543, Saint Columban was a monk at Bangor in County Down under St Comgall, before he left for Europe with several companions.
Passing through England and Brittany he founded the great monastery of Luxeuil in Burgundy in 591 and was abbot there for 20 years.
Columban's rule there became very influential among the rural Frankish nobility. He offended the Frankish court by criticising morals of the local church hierarchy and by his insistence on the Celtic observances in his houses. He was forced into exile in 610. In 612 he founded the monastery of Bobbio in Lombardy in Italy which became a great centre of prayer and learning. He died there in 615. Some of his writings survive.
The Rule of St Columbanus was approved of by the Council of Mâcon in 627, but it was destined before the close of the century to be superseded by that of St Benedict. For several centuries, in some of the greater monasteries, the two rules were observed conjointly. In art St Columbanus is represented bearded bearing the monastic cowl, he holds in his hand a book with an Irish satchel, and stands in the midst of wolves. Sometimes he is depicted in the attitude of taming a bear, or with sunbeams over his head.