Columba, St.

, renowned in Scotch history as the founder of a monastery at Icolmkill, and the chief agent in converting the northern Picts, was a native of Ireland, where he was a priest and abbot, and is supposed to have been born at Gartan, in the county of Tyrconnel, in 521. From thence, about the year 565, he arrived in Scotland, and received from Bridius, the son of Meilochon, the then reigning king of the Picts, and his people, the island of Hij, or Hy, one of the Western Isles, which was afterwards called from him Icolmkill, and became the famous burial-place of the kings of Scotland. There he built a monastery, of which he was the abbot, and which for several ages continued to be the chief seminary of North Britain. Columba acquired here such influence, that neither king or people did any thing without his consent. Here he died June 9, 597, and his body was buried on the island; but, according to some Irish writers, was afterwards removed to Down in Ulster, and laid in the same vault with the remains of St. Patrick and St. Bridgit. From this monastery at iona, of which some remains may yet be traced, and another, which he had before founded in Ireland, sprang many other monasteries, and a great many eminent men; but such are the ravages of time and the revolutions of society, that this island, which was once “the luminary of the Caledonian regions, whence savage clans and roving barbarians derived the benefits of knowledge, and the blessings of religion,” had, when Dr, | Johnson visited it in 1773, “no school for education, nor temple for worship, only two inhabitants that could speak English, and not one that could write or read.1


Mackenzie’s Scotch writers.—Cave, vol. I.—Butler’s Lives of the Saints.— Britannia Sancta.—Tanner.—Johnson’s Journey to the Western Isles.