Sunday, November 24, 2013

Columbanus ( 543 - 615 )

"It was into a country where all the bonds which bind society together were totally dissolved, that St. Columbanus flung himself with all the headlong courage of his race, to be the champion of morals, the apostle of "civilization, the fearless soldier of the cross of Christ. The two languages used by him, the Celtic and the Latin, would, of course, carry him everywhere ; and the king eventually settled upon him the old Roman castle of Annegray, where the first Irish monastery ever planted on the Continent raised its head. 

There he laid the foundations of his system as he had learned it in Ireland. These foundations are plain, aye, the very plainest living, high thinking, and hard work. He lived for weeks, according to his biographer, Jonas of Bobio, without any other food than the herbs of the field and the wild fruits yielded by the forest around. We trace in him the same love of nature and of natural objects which we find in some of the beautiful stories told of St. Columba. 

All nature seems to have obeyed his voice. The birds came to receive his caresses. The squirrels ran to him from the tree-tops to hide themselves in the folds of his cowl. One day, when wandering in the depths of the woods, meditating whether the ferocity of brutes, which could not sin, was not better than the rage of men, which destroyed their souls, he saw a dozen wolves approach and surround him on all sides. He remained motionless, repeating the words, Deus in adjutorium. The wolves touched his garment with their mouths, but seeing him fearless, passed upon their way."

Excerpted from The Irish Element in Medieval Culture by H. Zimmer, trans. from the German and published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1891.

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