(Col[u]mcille, ‘the holy dove’), b Gartan, Co Donegal, Ireland 521, d Iona, Scotland 597. Born into a noble and powerful Irish family of the clan of Ui Neill, he was trained in monasteries in Ireland by (among others) Finnian of Ulster. He in turn was ordained in 551 and went on to plant several churches and other communities. In c563 he sailed with 12 companions to the island of Iona off the W coast of Scotland, land granted by King Conall mac Congaill. From there he spent the next 34 years spreading the faith and nurturing new Christian groups (‘encampments for God’) among the Celtic tribes in Ireland and as far as Argyll and the Hebrides, supported by local ‘kings’. Though never a bishop, he became the de facto church leader over a wide area of the W Highlands, conducting strategic ordinations; Brude, king of the Picts, was converted from paganism to be one of his followers. Some of his hymns were written in Lat, some in the Irish language. An early biography was written by (St) Adomnan. Nos.289, 755.

Hymns and songs by Columba

Number Hymn Name
289 Christ is the world’s Redeemer
755 Alone with none but you, my God