Saint Columbanbus

17 Jun 2015


Saint Columbanus was a sixth century Irish monk born around 543. He became a monk of Bangor and later principal teacher there. In 591, desiring to ‘go on pilgrimage for Christ’, he set out with twelve companions and came to Burgundy. He established monasteries at Annegray, Luxeuil and Fontaine. Later he founded Bregenz in Austria and his greatest foundation at Bobbio, near Genoa, where he died in 615.  He is remembered as one of the greatest of the Irish missionary monks and revered across parts of Europe.

Columbanus Selected Writings.indd


In 2015 the 1400th anniversary of his death is being marked and the national celebrations will take place on the weekend of Saturday, 20 and Sunday, 21 June in Bangor and Armagh. There will also be pilgrim walks and gatherings in many parishes and communities to honour Saint Columbanus. Celebrations will centre on Bangor on Saturday, 20 June beginning with an ecumenical morning prayer service in Bangor Abbey followed by a Civic reception in the Town Hall. On Sunday 21 June a National Mass of Thanksgiving for Saint Columbanus will be celebrated in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh at 11.00am with Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh presiding.

Click here for the opening remarks by Archbishop Eamon Martin and the homily of Father Neil Collins.

Click here for the official photographs from the National Mass of Thanksgiving.

220px-Saint_Columbanus_window_at_Abbey_of_Bobbio (1)

Stained glass window depicting Saint Columbanus in Abbey at Bobbio

The Nine-Step Way of Saint Columban

Local parishes are encouraged to organise a pilgrim walk by using the nine-step way of Saint Columbanus to mark the occasion. The Way of Saint Columban is an ecumenical pilgrimage with nine steps along a selected route.

Each step consists of:

  • a reading from Scripture
  • the words of St. Columban
  • a brief reflection,
  • the Our Father.
The nine steps conclude with:
  • the litany of Saint Columban
  • prayers of intercession,
  • prayer of Saint Columban
  • shared Blessing.
Pilgrims may also choose to share their reflections on local sites, songs, prayers and invocations that they consider appropriate throughout the route.  Click here to download a pdf of the Way of Saint Columban
Prayer for Columban’s Intercession
O Blessed Columban,
who in your zeal to follow Christ
left your homeland as a wanderer
and spent your life in suffering and exile,
help and protect, we humbly ask you,
the missionaries of our day
who have devoted their lives
to preaching the Gospel
throughout the world.
Assist and protect us, also,
dear Saint Columban,
so that for God’s glory
that when our pilgrimage
through this life is over,
we may share with you
in the joy of our heavenly home,
through Christ our Lord,
The Words of Saint Columban

Sermon IV

Love is no trouble,
love is healing.
It is through love
that we pass
from death to life.

Nothing is dearer to God than love!

Sermon VI

Let the mind press onward,
even as life presses onward,
and let maturity of mind increase
with the fullness of old age.
And as our span of life grows shorter
so let the number of our faults grow less,
that we may leave the world to its own ways,
as we go to the Lord.
May this be so by the help of our Lord Jesus
Christ, to whom be glory, for ever and ever.

Sermon IX

Lord, kindle our lamps,
Saviour most dear to us,
that we may ever shine
in your presence,
and always receive light from you,
the Light Perpetual,
so that our own personal darkness
may be overcome,
and the world’s darkness
driven from us.

(Map above is courtesy of Veritas and taken from Saint Columbanus Selected Writings compiled by Alexander O’Hara.)