Born Crimthain, “the cunning wolf”, into a noble Irish family, he was so frequently at prayer as a boy that he was nicknamed Columcille, “the dove of the church”, or Columba in its shortened, Latin form. Christ had changed the wolf into a dove, but still the impetuousness of the wolf remained, until the time came when his anger brought him into conflict with the High King himself. Columba had secretly copied a manuscript from a monastery he was visiting. When the deed was discovered the matter was taken to the High King’s court, and the ruling given, “To every cow its calf,” indicating that Columba’s copy rightly belonged to the monastery. He refused to accept the decision and gathered an army to oppose the King. The slaughter was great and the King was defeated, but it brought Columba no comfort, instead the dove within him turned his arrogance to remorse for what he had done.
Columba’s penance was to leave Ireland and set out to another land to win as many souls for Christ as had been lost in the battle. So it was that Columba and twelve companions let God’s winds blow them until they could no longer see the coast of Ireland. They were finally brought to the island we now call Iona, which Columba made a base from which to spread the message of Christ as far as possible through what is now Scotland. He became the greatest missionary of that land, and his community the powerhouse for spreading the Gospel even further, including Northumbria, for many years after Columba’s death.
Lord Christ, change the wolf in me to the dove of Your peace and fill me with the wisdom You gave to Columba, to acknowledge my own faults and work to spread Your love wherever Your winds may blow me through my life. Amen.