The New International Encyclopædia/Columban, Saint

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COLUM′BAN, or COLUMBA′NUS, Saint (543-615). One of the most learned and eloquent of the many missionaries whom Ireland sent to the Continent during the Dark Ages. He was born in Leinster. Having studied under Saint Congall, in the great monastery of Bangor, in Ulster, he passed over to France, accompanied by twelve companions, and in Austrasia and Burgundy, near the southern extremity of the Vosges Mountains, founded the monasteries of Anegray, Luxeuil, and Fontaine. His adherence to the Irish rule for calculating Easter involved him in controversy with the French bishops about 605; and a few years later the courage with which he rebuked the vices of the Burgundian Court led to his expulsion from France. Passing through Switzerland into Lombardy, he founded, in 612, the famous Monastery of Bobbio, in the Apennines, where he died on November 21, 615. The writings of Saint Columban, which are wholly in Latin, consist of a rule for the government of his monastery, a few poems, several letters on ecclesiastical affairs, and sixteen short sermons. His monastic rule has been printed more than once; but the most complete edition of his works is in Patrick Fleming's Collectanea Sacra, published at Augsburg in 1621, and at Louvain in 1667. It is reprinted in Migne, Patrol. Latina, lxxx. Of the sermons of Saint Columban, M. Guizot remarks that “the flights of imagination, the pious transports, the rigorous application of principles, the warfare declared against all vain or hypocritical compromise, give to the words of the preacher that passionate authority which may not always and surely reform the soul of his hearers, but which dominates over them, and, for some time at least, exercises paramount sway over their conduct and their life.” The town of San Colombano, in Lombardy, takes its name from the Irish monk, as the town and Canton of Saint Gall (q.v.), in Switzerland, perpetuate the name of the most favored of his disciples. For his life, consult: Jonas, who was almost a contemporary and one of his successors as the Abbot of Bobbio, in Migne, Patrologiæ Cursus Completus (Paris, 1857-60); also W. F. Besser, (Leipzig, 1857); and J. K. Zimmermann (Saint Gall, 1865).