Thursday 5 May 2022

Saint Columban - Liam Griffiths S.S.C. and Sister Janet Wilcox - CTS Biographies

Saint Columban
Liam Griffiths S.S.C.
Sister Janet Wilcox (Illustrator)
ISBN 9780851834269
ISBN 0851834264
CTS Booklet B541

Over the last five years I have read over 275 books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society 70 of them have been part of the CTS Biographies Series. Of the ones that are out of print that I have tracked down this is one of the oldest. I recently picked up this volume and one on Joan of Arc, this one is from 1981 and that one from 1980. The other one from this vintage I have read is from 1978 Pope John Paul I by Stephen Dean. I have read several older ones but they are still in print or reprint or have eBook editions still available. Both of these are twice the size of the current format of the CTS booklets. They are both printed on glossy paper and have a number of full page colour images in the booklets. 

The description on the back of this booklet is:

“Saint Columban was one of the greatest in the long tradition of Irish Missionaries. He spent his life among the French, German and Italian peoples, strengthening them in their Christian Faith.

Today, the Columban Fathers continue this great work of evangelization the Far East and South America.”

The sections in the volume are:

1. Early Years in Ireland
     Columban’s Vocation
     Monastic Life at Bangor
2. Mission in Europe
     Influence of Columban’s Monasticism
     First Foundations
3. The Glory of Luxeuil
     The Original Luxeuil
     Known by its Fruits
     The monastery School of Luxeuil
4. Opposition
     The Easter Controversy
     Reprimand for a King
5. A Wanderer for Christ
     Columban in Germany
     On the Shores of Lake Constance
     A Parting of Friends
     In Milan
6. At Rest in Bobbio
     St Gall’s Vision
     St Columban’s Missionary Society
     Origin of St Columban’s Society
     Columban Missions
     Columban Sisters
     Our Thanks To You

This is a small volume, coming in at 24 pages. But those pages are packed with an amazing story, both of Columban and the Society that bears his name today. I doubt anyone could not in reading this volume be inspire, encouraged and challenged. I highlighted several passages while reading this volume some of them are:

“We live in an age of Europe-consciousness, an age in which we realize that Europe belongs to us and we belong to Europe. The peoples of this great continent are experiencing a new awareness of the common heritage that has been handed down to them since the birth of Christian Europe in the early centuries of Christianity.”

“It is the age of going back to our roots, of finding out who we are. It is a time of emphasizing our similarities rather than our differences. As St Columban said: “We are all members of one body, whether Franks or Britons or Irish of whatever race.””

“St Columban, one of the great Irish missionaries to Eurpoe in the 6th century, spent his life among the French, German, and Italian peoples, strengthening them in their Christian faith that made them one in Christ. ‘St Columban is the patron saint of those who wish to construct a united Europe’ (Robert Schuman, founder of the E.E.C.).”

“Columban was born on the border of Carlow and Wexford in Ireland about the year 543, less than a hundred years after the death of St Patrick. His grand-parents may well have met and listened to St Patrick himself. Be that as it may, Christianity was still something new in Ireland. The fervour and zeal of those first Irish converts made for a very vibrant church. Among the great achievements of those early days was the development of Celtic monasticism and the beginning of Irish missionary effort in foreign lands.”

“By continual prayer, fasting, work and study they were re-made in the image of Christ.”

“In a land of spiritual desolation, still nominally Christian, but where, due to war and negligence, the practice if religion had collapsed, Columban and his monks initiated a spiritual renewal.”

“Columban spend about twenty years in Luxeuil – from approximately 591-610. This was to be his principal monastery; it was here he wrote the Rule for his followers and it was here that he guided the two hundred and twenty monks of Luxeuil, Annegray and Fontaine.”

“St Columban’s brand of monasticism was very idealistic but very severe on human nature. However, it certainly provided great results, as can be seen from the fact that within twenty years Luxeuil produced twenty saints.”

“We have tried to give you, dear readers and friend, a brief outline of our Patron, St Columban, and of our society which is inspired by his ideals.”

I hope those few samples will give you an idea of the depth of this small volume. It is an excellent read, and one I am very thankful I was able to track down. I recommend it I you can lay your hands on a copy. Another great biography from the Catholic Truth Society.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

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