Columba came of Irish royal lineage, but from an early age preferred the religious life. Even before ordination to the presbyterate in 551, he had founded monasteries at Derry and Durrow. After the battle of Cul-debrene, for which he was held in part responsible, he and a dozen companions sailed to Britain as ‘a pilgrim for Christ’ and founded a monastery at Iona.
This monastery became the center for the conversion of the Picts. From Iona, also, his disciples went out to found other monasteries, which in turn, became centers of missionary activity. For thirty years, he evangelized, studied, wrote, and governed his monastery at Iona. He died peacefully while working on a copy of the Psalter.
He wrote this prayer,
Almighty Father, Son and Holy Ghost, eternal ever-blessed gracious God; to me the least of saints, to me allow that I may keep a door in paradise. That I may keep even the smallest door, the furthest, the darkest, coldest door, the door that is least used, the stiffest door. If so it be but in your house, O God, if it so be that I can see your glory even afar, and hear your voice, O God, and know that I am with you, O God.
Father, we pray that Bishop Justin Welby will lead many in the Church of England to be pilgrims for Christ. Amen.