Affirmed by God

Daily Reading for June 9 • Columba, Abbot of Iona, 597

For indeed after the lapse of many years, when St. Columba was excommunicated by a certain synod for some pardonable and very trifling reasons, and indeed unjustly, as it afterwards appeared at the end, he came to the same meeting convened against himself. When St. Brenden, the founder of the monastery which in the Scotic language is called Birra (Birr, in King’s County), saw him approaching in the distance, he quickly arose, and with head bowed down reverently kissed him.

When some of the seniors in that assembly, going apart from the rest, were finding fault with him, and saying: “Why didst thou not decline to rise in presence of an excommunicated person, and to kiss him?” he replied to them in this wise: “If,” said he, “you had seen what the Lord has this day thought fit to show to me regarding this his chosen one, whom you dishonour, you would never have excommunicated a person whom God not only doth not excommunicate, according to your unjust sentence, but even more and more highly esteemeth.”

“How, we would wish to know,” said they in reply, “doth God exalt, as thou sayest, one whom we have excommunicated, not without reason?”

“I have seen,” said Brenden, “a most brilliant pillar wreathed with fiery tresses preceding this same man of God whom you treat with contempt; I have also seen holy angels accompanying him on his journey through the plain. Therefore I do not dare to slight him whom I see foreordained by God to be the leader of his people to life.” When he said this, they desisted, and so far from daring to hold the saint any longer excommunicated, they even treated him with the greatest respect and reverence. This took place in Teilte (Taillte, now Teltown, in Meath).

From the Life of St. Columba, written by Adamnan, ed. William Reeves (Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1874).

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