Columba

521-597 Irish missionary. Columba was born in Donegal, Ireland. Very little is known about his early life and education. He studied at Celtic schools, and in 551 was ordained a priest. Later, in 563, at the age of 42, he and 12 of his followers sailed to Scotland, where he established a center of missionary activity at Iona. His labors resulted in reaching the entire island with Christianity.

       His ministry contrasted sharply with that of Augustine, who later came to Britain, in that Augustine represented the Roman church, while Columba was a product of the Celtic church of Britain. Revered by both Scotland and Ireland as a great spiritual benefactor and saint, he was found dead beside the altar of a local church where he had been engaged in midnight prayer.

       Many historians consider his work and ministry of promoting Christianity in the British Isles far greater than that of the first Archbishop of Canterbury.

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