Feast Day: June 9th
Saint Colmcille, sometimes called Saint Columba, was born at Gartan, Co. Donegal, on December 7th, 521, the son of a chief related to several of the princes then reigning in Ireland and in the west of Scotland. His parents had him baptised and given the name Criomhthann (Crevan or fox). When he was old enough he went to Moville to study for the priesthood. As he spent most of his free time there in the Church visiting the Blessed Sacrament his fellow students gave him the name Colmcille (Dove of the Church). To complete his studies for the priesthood in 544 Colmcille went to Clonard where St. Finian impressed upon students the need for missionaries in church. In Clonard Colmcille made friends with many of the men who were later to become great missionaries, (The Twelve Apostles of Ireland as they were called). In 546 Echen Bishop of Clonfada ordained Colmcille a priest. Later that year he founded his first monastery in Derry on a site that was given. Colmcille spent the next seventeen years travelling througout Ireland preaching and teaching. Colmcille worked with great energy and enthusiasm founding thirty churches and other monasteries in Durrow, Kells, Swords and Drumcliff. Colmcille was a renowned scribe and he trained his monks to become expert scribes. It was Colmcille's monks who many years later produced the Book of Kells.
In 561 accompanied by twelve disciples, he left Ireland for the little island of Hy (Iona) and founded a monastery there in 563. Many people were attracted by the lives of the monks on Iona and all kinds of people came to Colmcille for advise. Colnicille and his monks built a fleet of boats and in these they set out in all directions from Iona. They travelled to the mainland and the nearby Scottish islands and the north of England teaching and preaching, building 56 Churches and schools. For this reason Colmcille is called the Apostle of Scotland. Colmcille had a powerful influence on the lives of the people he served. In Scotland he was given the role of naming the king and the coronation ceremony was held in the Church of Iona. With Colmcille's influence the Scots became a strong and united people.
During all these years Colmcille kept close contact with Ireland. He ruled his monasteries at home form Iona or sometimes came to visit them. In 575 the Ard Ri of Ireland requested Colmcille to attend and advise the convention of Druimceatt in Derry, a gathering of all the bishops, kings and princes of Ireland. Colmcille returned to Iona, but his health began to fail in 593, and he died June 9th, 597.