ON THIS DAY: 21 NOVEMBER 615: SAINT COLUMBANUS (Columbán meaning white dove) died in present day Italy
As an Irish missionary, he was notable for founding a number of monasteries from around 590 in the Frankish and Lombard kingdoms, most notably Luxeuil Abbey in present-day France and Bobbio Abbey in present-day Italy.
He was one of those many Irish missionaries who kept the faith alive in Western Europe during what have become known as The Dark Ages. Irish missionaries were crucial figures in the spread of Christianity in Anglo-Saxon England and the Frankish Empire during the 6th and 7th centuries.
Historian, Dr. Alexander O’Hara, states Columbanus had a “very strong sense of Irish identity…He’s the first person to write about Irish identity, he’s the first Irish person that we have a body of literary work from, so even on that point of view he’s very important in terms of Irish identity.”
Columbanus was never afraid to call out what he thought was bad behaviour by kings or the elite of the day and it often landed him in serious trouble. He loved nature and animals and was forthright and honest which led to his popularity by some and hatred by others.