Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 11.djvu/417

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Columba
Columba
411

Scanlann, a royal captive from Ossory, were arranged. Both arrangements are attributed to Columba's influence, and a very ancient authority (Preface to Amra Choluimcille; 'Lebor na Huidre facs.) also ascribes a third decision to him. The exactions of the bards and senachies had roused general indignation, and their order was threatened with destruction. He obtained terms for them ; they were to be moderate in their satires, their visits were not to be too long, and their demands for reward were to be moderate. They assented, and continued for centuries to perambulate the country, to praise or to satirise kings, lords and squires, farmers and ecclesiastics, till in the present reign their last representatives were reduced, in the general ruin of the literature of Ireland, to a chair by the kitchen fire in winter and a meal on the doorstep in summer. In 585 Columba again visited Ireland, stayed at his monastery of Burrow and afterwards at Clonmacnois.

From his distant island he ruled other churches in the western isles, and many in Ireland, of which the chief were Derry, Durrow, Kells (Meath), Tory, Drumcliff, Swords, Raphoe, Kilmore, Moone, Clonmore, Rechra (Lambay), Kilmacrenan, Gartan, Temple-douglas, Assylyn, Skreen (Meath), Skreen (Tyrone), Skreen (Derry), Drumcolumb, Mismor Loch Gowna, Emlaghfad, Glencolumbkille (Clare), Kilcolumb, Knock, Termon Ma- guirk, Cloghmore, Columbkille (Kilkenny), Ardcolum, Armagh, Mornington, Desertegny, Clonmany, Desertoghill, Ballymagroarty, Ballymagrorty, Glencolumbkille (Donegal), Eskaheen (Adamnan, Life of Columba, ed. Reeves, p. 276). Of the saint's life in his island a vivid picture is given in Adamnan's ' Vita Sancti Columbse. The author was Columba's ecclesiastical successor and his kinsman, and in his youth knew some who had been contemporaries of the saint. The earliest existing manuscript of the life is almost as old as the time of Adamnan. Carlyle had read the book often and admired it. ' You can see,' he said, ' that the man who wrote it would tell no lie ; what he meant you cannot always find out, but it is clear that he told things as they appeared to him.' The object of the life is not to give dates or descriptions, but to exhibit the saintly character of Columba. In the account, however, of his prophetic revelations, of his miracles, and of his angelic visions, the three sections of the biography, his way of life, his disposition, and his tastes, are easily learned. Most of what are described as wonders are simple events which take their miraculous colour from the observer's belief in the constant interposition of providence in daily life. He spent the day in religious exercises, in manual labour, and in writing. If his monastery was governed by a precise and definite code, it has not survived. The Irish 'Regula Choluimcille,' transcribed by Michael O'Clery (printed in Reeves's 'Primate Colton's Visitation,' p. 109), consists of general exhortations to holy poverty (rule 2), to obedience (rules 2, 8, 3), to seclusion from the world (rules 1, 4, 5, 6, and 7), to readiness for martyrdom (rules 9 and 10), to the general practice of Christian morality (rules 11, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 23, 24, and 25), to silence (rule 22), to -prayer (rules 27, 28, and 29), while two of the rules, 16 and 17, are somewhat more definite, and ordered 'three labours in the day, prayers, work, and reading,' and ' to help the neighbours, namely by instruction, or writing, or sewing garments, or by whatever labour they may be in want of.' This is perhaps the rule of which St. Wilfrith spoke in his discussion at Strenaeshalch with Colman (Bædæ Historia Ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, iii. 25, ed. Cologne, 1601, p. 134), saying, ' De parte (leg. patre) autem vestro Columba et sequacibus ejus, quorum sanctitatem vos imitari et regulam ac prsecepta coelestibus signis confirmata sequi perhibetis.'

The arrangements of the community which Columba founded and over which he ruled are traceable in his biography. He looked upon monastic life as a military service of Christ. The monastic society was modelled on the secular institutions with which the saint was familiar, and consisted of an abbot (or chief) and of a muinter, family or clan. Columba himself, the abbot, was in priest's orders, and all his successors styled themselves ' abbas et presbyter.' He permitted no episcopal jurisdiction within the monastery, but often entertained bishops, employed them to ordain, and treated them with veneration, as in superior orders. His authority was absolute. Besides the regular hours for devotion he sometimes called the brethren suddenly to the church and there exhorted them from the altar. He instituted a feast on the day of the death of Colman mac U-loigse, and dispensed the community from fastingon the advent of a guest. He gave a benediction as a formal exeat from the island, and sometimes forbade people to land on it, sometimes he crossed over to the mainland of Scotland, preaching to the Picts and baptising converts. Columba named his own successor, but evidently intended the office to be elective in a particular line, as were the chiefships of the Irish clans ; of his eleven immediate successors nine were certainly of his kin, one was probably so, and one only was not a descendant of Conall Gulban. The family,