St Columba 521 – 597 AD
Columba was born of noble parents in Donegal, Ireland, the land of the “Scots”. After being ordained, he preached widely and helped to establish churches and monasteries, such as those at Derry and Durrow. In 563 AD Columba left Ireland, determined to “go on pilgrimage for Christ”. With twelve companions he sailed to the island of Iona on the west coast of Scotland. There he established a monastery which served as a base for evangelism among his fellow Scots and among the Picts. A courageous man, almost warlike at times, Columba preached to the people who were under the influence of Druid opponents of Christianity. Many churches were founded and much of the religious, political and social life of Scotland Christianized. Columba combined deep visionary piety and a forceful involvement in the affairs of kings and chiefs, with a concern for scholarship and a love of nature. He used his influence to support the continuation of the bardic tradition, and thus ensured the presence of an educated laity in Irish Christian society. His achievements illustrate the importance of the Celtic Church in bringing a revival of Christianity to Western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire.