Iona And Columba Essay

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Columba [St Columba, Colum Cille] (c.521–597), monastic founder, was also known by the Old Irish name of Colum Cille, meaning, approximately, ‘Church Dove’. He was the son of Fedelmid, of the royal lineage of Conall Gulban mac Néill, and of Ethne, daughter of Mac Naue. His immediate paternal relatives were rulers in the north-west of Ireland while his wider kin group, the Uí Néill (‘descendants of Niall’) were already emerging in the sixth century as Ireland's dominant royal dynasty. Columba thus was born into the highest rank of Irish nobility. Gartan, in Donegal, is traditionally claimed as his place of birth, but there is no documentary source earlier than the twelfth century to verify this. It may be assumed, however, that his homeland was in the north-west, among the Cenél Conaill (‘the kindred of Conall’), the people whose designation commemorated Columba's great-grandfather. Early life The date of Columba's birth, c.521, is based on the known fact that he died in the year 597, aged about seventy-six. The fifth century had seen Christianity established widely in Ireland, and while it cannot be assumed that the process was complete by Columba's time, nevertheless, there seems no good reason to doubt that his family was Christian. The seventh-century life of Columba (Adomnán's Vita Columbae), the main source of biographical information, makes brief mention of his foster father, a priest called Cruithnechán, and refers also to his teachers: a master called Gemmán in Leinster, with whom he studied as a young deacon, and a bishop called variously Findbarr, Finnio, or Uinniau. The implication is that Columba's commitment to religion began at an early age, but the life, which focuses primarily on the manifestations of sanctity in his monastic career, does not trace his progress towards this goal. In fact, while it may be inferred that he became a monk and priest,
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