Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 11.djvu/419

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Columba
Columban
413

of religious communities into Northern Britain and into several parts of Europe. At Milan (from Bobbio), at St. Gall in Switzerland, and at Wiirzburg may be seen manuscripts in the hands of men who had learnt penmanship and theology in Icolumcille or in the monasteries which recognised the successor of Columba as their superior. It was not till the twelfth century that the fire kindled by Columba was outshone and lost to view in the light of a new learning and a fresh religious enthusiasm. In his own mountain country he is still an object of popular devotion.

The chief biographies of Columba are: 1. That of Cumine, abbot of Icolumcille, who died in 669. This is not extant, but is cited by Adamnan. 2. 'Vita Sancti Columbæ,' by Adamnan [q. v.], ninth abbot, based on that of Cumine. 3. An old life in Irish ('Leabhar Breac,' fol. 15 a and V). This is a sermon on the text 'exi de terra tua,' &c., printed by W. Stokes, Calcutta, 1877. Other copies exist in the ' Book of Lismore ' and in a manuscript in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh. 4. A life, or rather collection of all written information and local tradition about Columba, written in 1532 by Manus O'Donnell at Lifford in Donegal. This interesting collection of everything believed about Columba in Donegal is a finely written manuscript of 120 pages with double columns. It was bought by Rawlinson at the Duke of Chandos's sale in 1777 for twenty-three shillings, and is now in the Bodleian collection, Rawlinson B. 514. It contains a large illuminated figure of the saint with a mitre on his head. 5. Colgan prints ('Trias Thaumaturga,' pp. 325, 332) two lives, which are compilations of little value. It is a curious illustration of Columba's fame in his own region that all the writers who have thrown light on the life of Columba have come from the north of Ireland. Cumine, Adamnan, and Colgan from Donegal, while Dr. William Reeves, whose book 'The Life of St. Columba, written by Adamnan,' Dublin, 1857, is the storehouse to which all modern writers on the Columban period have gone, and in which no points are neglected, was curate of Kilconriola in Antrim when he wrote the book, and is now bishop of Down, Connor, and Dromore.

[Reeves's Adamnan; Reeves's Acts of Archbishop Colton, Dublin, 1850; Colgan's Trias Thaumaturga, Louvain, 1647; O'Donovan's Notes in Ordnance Survey of the County of Londonderry, Dublin, 1837; Crowe's Amra Choluimcille, Dublin, 1871; Bædæ Historia Ecclesiastica, bk. iv. ed Cologne, 1601; Irish Historical MSS facsimiles of Book of Durrow and of Cathach, and of O'Donnell's Life; Royal Irish Academy, facsimiles of Leabhar Breac and Lebor na Huidre; Stuart's History of Armagh, Newry, 1819; Bodleian MS., Rawlinson B. 514.]

N. M.

COLUMBAN, Saint (543–615), abbot of Luxeuil and Bobbio, was born in Leinster in 543, the year of the death of St. Benedict at Monte Cassino. His youth was studious, and he became well versed in literature and in the works of the grammarians. As he grew to manhood his singular beauty exposed him to many temptations from his countrywomen. In order to resist these he applied himself with redoubled diligence to his work, and studied grammar, rhetoric, and geometry with all his might. Still troubled by carnal desires, he sought counsel of an aged woman, who lived as a recluse. She bade him flee from temptation. In obedience to her advice he left his parents and his home, and went to dwell with a learned doctor named Silene,' probably Sinell, abbot of Cluaininis in Lough Erne (comp. Vita S. Columbani Abb. by Jonas, a monk of Bobbio, and almost a contemporary, and Lanigan, Eccl. Hist. ii. 233, 263). While with him Columban composed a metrical version of some of the Psalms and wrote other poems and treatises. After a while he left Sinell and entered the monastery of Bangor on the coast of Down, which was then under the rule of its founder, St. Congall, where he was conspicuous for his devotion and the strict discipline of his life. After remaining there many years he longed to go as a missionary to foreign lands, and, having obtained the reluctant consent of his abbot, sailed with twelve other monks who wished to accompany him to Britain. They made only a short stay there, and then, probably in 585, went on to Gaul. Constant wars and the consequent negligence of the priests had caused religion to decay throughout the dominions of the Merovingian kings. Christianity indeed remained, but men no longer cared to practise self-mortification and penance (Vita, p. 11). Columban preached in various places, and then went to the court, his biographer Jonas says, of Sigebert, king of the Austrasians and Burgundians. This must, however, be wrong, for Sigebert of Austrasia was slain in 575 (St. Greg. Ep. Turon. iv. 52), and this king must therefore have been either Guntramn of Burgundy, who died in 593, or Hildebert II, who succeeded his father Sigebert in Austrasia and his uncle Guntramn in Burgundy. It is probable that Columban arrived at the court of Hildebert after he had succeeded to Guntramn's kingdom (Orderic, 716 A). The king received him graciously, and begged him to remain in his country, offering him whatsoever he