Monday, 30 May 2016


I have just finished reading Ian Bradley’s little book “Columba” (Wild Goose, 1996) in which he focusses on the ideas of Columba as a pilgrim and a penitent. We often consider Columba to be a great missionary, establishing a community on Iona from which he went to preach the Gospel. There would seem to be truth in that, but Bradley suggests that Columba’s ministry may have had a much stronger pastoral element and that his ministry was substantially one of presence. He was there for those who needed someone to whom they could turn. It is certainly clear that he was a competent and forceful character. He made contacts in high places, often with royalty. He had a great love of the Psalms and that played into his frequent use of a penitential approach. But perhaps what we most gain from Columba is the challenge to go out and be the Church.