Today is also the commemoration of St Columban, or Columbanus, a sixth century Irish monk. He was educated in County Down and entered monastic life there. In about 590, he left Ireland with some twelve monks and went to Gaul. There, he founded several monasteries. He was indicted by a synod of French bishop for keeping the Celtic date of Easter. As a result, he was forcibly removed from his monastery and went to Switzerland. Compelled to leave from there also, he went to Italy and founded a monastery at Bobbio. In this monastery, he lived until his death on this day in the year 615.

He said: ‘Be gentle to the weak, firm to the stubborn, steadfast to the proud, humble to the lowly’. This is advice which is within reach of all of us. May St Columban pray for us, and may God bless you this day.