John Lanigan on Saint Columba

(Extract from "Ecclesiastical History of Ireland.")

From The Cabinet of Irish Literature, Volume 2, edited by Charles A. Read

Before Saint Columba set out for the island now known by the name of I-Columb-kill, but which, for shortness' sake, I shall call Hy, he must have got permission from the proprietor of it to settle there. Accordingly the grant of it made to him by his relative Conall, king of the Albanian Scots, ought to be placed before his departure from Ireland, as it can scarcely be imagined that he would have directed his course and attended by a number of followers to that small island without his being allowed to inhabit it. For it must be observed that he is generally represented as have sailed straight from Ireland to Hy together with twelve of his disciples.

The year of his arrival after a short passage was 563. Having erected a monastery and church, and arranged such matters as were connected with his establishment, in which occupation, besides his visiting the territories of his relatives in the mainland of Britain, he may have passed about two years, Columba, taking with him some assistants, undertook his wished-for task of converting the northern Picts, who inhabited the whole of modern Scotland to the north of the great range of the Grampian Mountains. He was the first Christian missionary that appeared in that then wild country. When arrived at the residence of King Brude he found the gate closed, and the king gave orders that it should not be opened, upon which the saint, advancing with his companions, made the sign of the cross on it, and on his then pushing it with his hand it immediately flew open.

Brude being apprised of this prodigy, was, together with his council, struck with terror, and went forward to meet Columba, whom he welcomed in the most kind and respectful manner, and ever after treated with every mark of attention. It is probable that the king's conversion took place not long after, but the Magi, the chief of whom seems to have been one Broichan, exerted themselves to prevent the missionaries from preaching to the people; and it is particularly related that one evening while the saint and a few of his brethren were celebrating vespers near the royal residence or castle, some of those Magi coming near them did all they could to hinder them from being heard by the inhabitants, but that all their efforts were fruitless. The Almighty was pleased to confirm Columba's mission by various miracles, the most remarkable of which was the resurrection of a boy who had died a few days after he and his parents, together with the whole family, became Christians through the saint's preaching, and were baptized.

From the circumstance of his death some Magi took occasion to jeer and insult his parents, and to boast that their gods were stronger than the God of the Christians. Columba, being apprised of the whole matter, went to the parents' house, and, desiring them to confide in the divine omnipotence, was shown into the place where the body was stretched. Then, having ordered those who were assembled there to withdraw, he prayed most fervently for some time, and directing his eyes to the body, said, "In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, rise and stand upon thy feet." Immediately the boy returned to life and opened his eyes. The saint, lifting him up and taking him by the hand, conducted him to his parents, upon which the people raise a shout; lamentation is changed into joy, and the God of the Christians is glorified.

See also:—

John Lanigan, D.D. (1758-1828)

John Lanigan on Saint Ita