This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

June 9 -- Feast of Saint Columba of Iona

Heading into exile in a coracle
There are three big dog saints from Ireland:  Patrick, Brigid, and Columba.  Today's saint, Columba, gets a lot of cred for being the Apostle to the Picts.  In fact, while in exile from his beloved Ireland (politics, of course), he strove mightily to convert the heathen throughout Great Britain.  Saint Augustine gets more credit for the conversion of England since he came at it from the Roman side, but Columba's work was no less influential. 

And yet, he was not one to demand the eradication of indigenous culture.  He was a bard as well as a bishop, and when one of the Christian kings called for a suppression of bardic culture, Columba successfully defended it. 

But perhaps the thing would should most remember about Columba is that his Vita contains the first account of the Loch Ness monster.  He was preaching in the area of the River Ness when a report came of a local being dragged below the surface by a monster.  Columba requested that one of his followers, Luigne moccu Min, swim across the river where the disappearance took place.  As the monk swam, the monster reappeared.  Columba made the sign of the Cross and ordered the beast to retreat, which it immediately did.  Such demonstrations, of course, impressed the locals enough to embrace this odd faith. 

If you find yourself in Portland, Maine with a couple hours to kill, be sure to visit the International Cryptozoology Museum and ask Loren Coleman about Nessie and related monsters.  You might even ask him about Saint Columba, if you have enough time. 

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