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St Columba’s is a Catholic school with Christ’s teachings of love, peace and justice at the heart of all we do

The life of St Columba


Columba was born in County Donegal in Ireland in the year 521 (about 500 years after Jesus).

His mother and father were from the royal family, so he was a very important child.

They called their son 'Columba' which means 'dove'. The dove is a sign for peace, and for God, and the Holy Spirit too. Columba could have become king in Ireland, but chose instead to give up all his riches and become a priest and a monk.

He travelled all over Ireland teaching people about God and building churches. One day, while he was working in the library making beautiful illuminated manuscripts (books with intricate and colourful designs), he copied someone else's work and pretended it was his own. He lied to cover up what he had done. When he was discovered, he refused to accept that he was wrong, and he gathered a great army together and went into battle against the people who were accusing him. In the end 3,000 people were killed. Columba realized that he had done a very bad thing, and so he left Ireland in a little boat called a coracle and crossed over to Scotland. He landed on the island of Iona, and there built a new monastery. He promised God that he would tell 3,000 people about Jesus, as a way of saying sorry for all the people who had been killed. Columba travelled around Scotland teaching people about God, and there are lots of legends about things that he did. One of the best is that he is said to have used his cross to save someone from being eaten by the Loch Ness monster. Columba worked for thirty years in Scotland, and many people learnt about God from him and became Christians. He always returned to the tiny island of Iona when he wanted to rest and to pray, and listen to God. Today Iona is a place of pilgrimage where Christians go when they want to rest and be close to God, just like Columba.