Columban, Saint

Columban, Saint kəlŭmˈbən [key], c.540–615, Irish missionary to the continent of Europe, also called Columbanus. He was trained in the abbey at Bangor. He and 12 companions, including St. Gall, sailed to France (c.585), where they set out to eradicate the general impiety that had grown up under the successors of Clovis. He went into seclusion in the Vosges, and c.590 he founded the abbey at Luxeuil. His Celtic practices and austerities eventually alienated both ecclesiastical and civil powers. Involved in the hostility between Queen Brunhilda and the Frankish bishops, he was generally feared by them all and was exiled. He went (610) to Switzerland and to Bregenz, seeking to reestablish Christianity there. Hostile reaction caused him to go (612) to Milan. At Bobbio he set up an abbey. There he died and lies buried. St. Columban was a considerable scholar, and all his foundations became known for their learning. He composed a rule for monks, which was later completely replaced by the longer and less austere rule of St. Benedict. Feast: Nov. 21 and, in Ireland, Nov. 23.

See B. Lehane, The Quest of Three Abbots (1968); C. H. Lawrence, Medieval Monasticism (1984).

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