Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint Columban (543–615)

Saint Columban (543–615)

Patron saint of Bobbio, Italy; also of motorcyclists and against floods

Feast day: November 23

Saint Columban was a famous Irish missionary. Columban received a good education and resolved to live a life of simplicity and abstinence. However, he began to worry that this might not be possible because he was tempted by the pretty Irish girls in his community. He was so seriously tormented by his lustful thoughts that he sought the guidance of a religious woman who was living as a hermit. She told him that if he wanted to maintain his purpose of simplicity and abstinence, he should go to a place where he would not be tempted. He heeded her advice and began to live the monastic lifestyle, first at Lough Erne and then at Bangor.

After many years of isolation and prayer, he and twelve like-minded missionaries traveled to Gaul. There, the missionaries were respected for their discipline, preaching, charity, and dedication to religious life. Columban founded numerous monasteries in Europe that became epicenters of religion and culture. One of the most famous is the Monastery of Bobbio, where he would eventually be called to his heavenly home. Columban is known for his writings on penance and against Arianism, his sermons, his poems, and his monastic rule. 

(Image Trebbia at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)