St-Columba_Aidan-HartOne very cold day in winter the saint (Columba) was much afflicted, and wept bitterly. His attendant, Diormit, asked the cause of his sadness, and received this answer from him:

“With just reason am I sad today, my little child, seeing that my monks, now wearied after their severe labours, are engaged by Laisran in building a large house; with this I am very much displeased.”

Strange to say, at that very moment, Laisran, who was living at the time in the monastery of the Oakwood Plain (Derry), felt somehow impelled, and as it were consumed by a fire within him, so that he commanded the monks to stop from working, and some refreshments to be made ready for them.

He also gave directions that they were to rest not only that day, but also on other occasions of severe weather.

The saint, hearing in spirit these words of consolation addressed by Laisran to his brethren, ceased weeping, and though he himself was living in the Iouan island (Hy, now Iona), he rejoiced with exceeding great joy, and told all the circumstances to his brethren, while at the same time he blessed Laisran for his timely relief to the monks.

Another time the saint was sitting on the top of the mountain which overhangs this our monastery, at some distance from it, and turning to his attendant Diormit, said to him, “I am surprised that a certain ship from Scotia (Ireland) does not appear sooner: there is on board a certain wise man who has fallen into a great crime, but who, with tears of repentance, shall soon arrive.”

Not long after the attendant, looking to the south, saw the sail of a ship that was approaching the harbour. When its arrival was pointed out to the saint he got up quickly and said, “Let us go to meet this stranger, whose sincere penance is accepted by Christ.”

As soon as Feachna came on shore, he ran to meet the saint, who was coming down to the shore, and falling on his knees before him lamented most bitterly with wailing and tears, and there in the presence of all made open confession of his sins.

Then the saint, also shedding tears, said to him, “Arise, my son, and be comforted; the sins thou hast committed are forgiven thee, because, as it is written, ‘a humble and contrite heart God doth not despise. He then arose, and the saint received him with great joy.

After a few days he was sent to Baithene, who at that time was the superior of the monastery in the plain of Lunge (Maigh Lunge, in Tiree), and he journeyed thither in peace.

Adomnán of Iona (628-704): Life of St. Columba, Book 3, 23 & 24; from Life of Saint Columba, Founder of Hy, Written by Adamnan, Ninth Abbot of that Monastery, ed. William Reeves, (Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1874) @ Internet Medieval Source Book; icon of St Columba by Aidan Hart.

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