I’m doing some research on Cetlic Theology and Spirituality and have run across the very inspiring figure of Columba of Iona. Columba is one of the Holy Trio of Irish saints (along with St. Pattrick and St. Brigid) and is especially noted for the establishment of the monastic community of Iona and evangelizing Scotland.
The Celts were a warrior people. Originating in Central Asia, Celtic peoples moved west and once occupied most of Central Europe (the Gauls in France were Celts). They were a traveling people but found their clans and kingdoms pushed out of mainland Europe by the Romans. They ended up primarily in the British Isles. Columba and his companions established the monastic community on the isle of Iona within sight of the Scottish mainland. They learned the language and culture of the native Northern Picts of Scotland and ultimately their proximity strategy paid off with great success.
The evangelization of Scotland was not without ‘power encounters’ as the Celts were steeped in druidic spirituality and magic. Columba was a great believer in these realities himself. He manifested a courageous faith that no evil could befall him as his life was in the hands of the more powerful creator God. We see this deep confidence in a line of poetic liturgy that is attributed to him:
My Druid is Christ, the Son of God,
Christ, Son of Mary, the Great Abbat,
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.