“Be mindful of favors, unmindful of wrongs.”
Name: St. Columban
Feast day: November 23
It shouldn’t surprise any Catholic that St. Columban is patron of motorcyclists—he probably would have driven one if they had been around in his day! He left his home Ireland in midlife and wound his way, with companions, through parts of Europe over the course of his years.
But St. Columban was on no joyride. He was on a mission to share the Good News with the people he encountered, and, if they already were Christian, to encourage them to pray more deeply. By the sixth century, the barbarian invasions had wiped out much of European culture; Columban and the other Irish missioners traveled across the English Channel to restore it.
He was 42—fairly old for his times— and well educated when he asked his abbot to send him forth for missionary work. The abbot selected 12 monks to be his mission team and blessed their journey. They converted thousands in the French province of Burgundy, and founded monasteries along the way. For each monastery Columban wanted to be abbot, but the open road, or more properly, a “holy restlessness,” called him to move on to the next frontier.
He made missionary journeys through Germany and Switzerland to Italy. Along the way he rankled all manner of authority, both for bringing his own cultural practices with him, and for refusing to back down on points of principle. He left in his wake a number of monasteries, houses of prayer, which were local centers of revitalizing the Church.
St. Columban, you showed us both action and contemplation in your missionary fervor. Pray for us and with us that we may take the Lord’s word to heart, and find our own “holy restlessness” to share the Good News with the people we meet.