Feast Day 31 August
The Venerable Bede on Aidan:
" His life is in marked contrast to the apathy of our times."
Most of what we know of Aidan comes from Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the British People. Like Columba, Aidan was an Irishman. He became a monk at Iona and in c. 635 he was sent as a Bishop to Northumbria. His predecessor Corman had been sent back to Iona, rejected by the English for being too austere and describing them as an
"ungovernable people of obstinate and barborous temperament"
At the council to find a replacement Aidan who suggested a softer approach was thus sent as bishop to King Osward and was given the island of Lindisfarne as his see.
A monastry was established at Lindisfarne and Aidan went on numerous journeys on foot gaining many disciples from amoung the poor and the slaves that he bought back into freedom. He was not a fluent English speaker and often King Oswald, educated at Iona, translated for him as he preached to both the "thanes and chief men".
Aidan died shortly after the muder of King Oswald's successor King Oswin and is buried at Lindisfarne.
Feast Day 9 June
Columba was born into an Irish royal clan and trained as a priest. He travelled preaching and teaching thoroughout Ireland foundeding several monastries including those at Derry (546) and Durrow (556).
Acording to one legend Columba was condemned by a Synod in 561, possibly due to his part in a dispute over the ownership of a copy of a Gospel which resulted in the deaths of many in the battle of Cooldrevne. Possibly because of the difficulties of separating his family political interests and his religious calling or possibly as a penace he left his beloved Ireland with a group of twelve for exile on Iona, in 563, where he established a monastic community and become the first Abbot of Iona.
Using Iona as a base Columba and his companions travelled widely on mainland preaching to the heathen Picts.
Today many legends and stories still exist about the life of Columba. One of my favourites is found in a " Celtic Miscellany" which has a wonderful 17th Century story about a contemporary of Columba's who went to a hermitage in the wilderness taking nothing with him and whose only companions there were a cock, a mouse and a fly.
The cock used to wake him for Matins at midnight every day. The mouse would nibble his ear and ensure that he slept no longer than five hours and the fly would walk along the psalter as he read and kept his place until he returned the next time. After writing to Columba about these three, his companions unfortuantely all died and he was left alone.
He wrote again to Columba telling him that his congregation had died and Columba replied, "Don't think so much about the death of your flock, as misfortune only comes where there are riches".
Columba died on Iona and is buried there, he comemorated in a tiny Chapel in the recently restored Abbey.
Sources: The Life of Columba by Adomnan of Iona , gives a contemporary account of the Legend of Columba about 100 years after his death.
You can find the 6th Century Rule of St. Columba at http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/columba-rule.html
You can find information about Saint Patrick on the following pages:
Confessio of Saint Patrick http://www.mcs.net/~jorn/html/jj/patrick.html
Confession of Saint Patrick http://ccel.wheaton.edu/patrick/confession/confession.html
Feast Day 15 January
Ita was the Abbess of a community of women at Killeedy Co Limerick which is named after her, Edy's Cell . Among her pupils at the Abbey school is said to have been St. Brendan (the voyager) of Clonfert. Edward C. Sellner's book Wisdom of the Celtic Saints summarizes the legends relating to her life.
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Last Updated 2nd April 1996