Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Columbanus and the Delopment of Monasticisim

Columbanus one of the greatest missionaries and  monastic community builders of the Celtic church initiated a revival of spirituality on the European continent. He left Ireland in 590 with 12 monks. The Merovingian king Guntram granted him land in the Vosges Mountains in Gaul, where he established several monasteries, including the great intellectual and religious house at Luxeuil (.(nearFontaine, France).

Luxeuil became a monastic hotbed. From its walls went out many who carried the Gospel and Columbanus' monastic vision  into France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. There are said to have been sixty-three such men (Stokes, Forests of France, 254). These disciples of Columbanus are accredited with founding over one hundred different monasteries (ib., 74).

Columbanus' example of monastic and missionary enterprise became the protoype so eagerly followed by such English and Irish Saints  as Killian, Virgilius, Donatus, Wilfrid, Willibrord, Swithbert, Boniface, and Ursicinus of Saint-Ursanne who  Columbanus preceded to Europe.

 He composed a comprehensive rule for monks, The Monastic Rule of St. Columbanus is much shorter than the Benedictine Rule, consisting of only ten chapters.  The first six chapters the  Benedictine and Columbian  codes cover the same issues,obidence, silence food, poverty, humility, chastity and fasting. The rule was approved by the council of Macon in 627. By 700 it was surpassed in usage by  the longer and  less austere rule of St. Benedict. For several centuries in some of the greater monasteries the two rules were observed conjointly.

Near the end of his life and travels Columbanus established a monastic community at Bibbio in Italy where he founded a library. The Bibbio community became a hub of faith and learning for all of Europe.

composed from several sources

Photos : The basilica of San Colombano in Bibbio Italy and the rish chapel of St. columbanus as St Peters Basilica

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