- Feb 18, 2014Celtic and Old English Saints 18 February
* St. Colman of Lindisfarne & Mayo
St. Colman of Lindisfarne & Mayo, Last Columban Abbot
of Lindisfarne, Founder of Inishbofin and Mayo
Born in Connaught, Ireland, c. 605; died on Inishbofin, 676 (some
chronicles give it as 672, 674, or 675; some parts of Ireland celebrate
his feast on August 8.
Saint Colman became a monk at Iona under Saint Columba (f.d. June 9) and
c. 661 succeeded Saint Finan (f.d. February 17) as the third
abbot-bishop of Lindisfarne, the most important monastery in
Northumbria, England, close to the royal castle at Bamburg. At that time
the disagreement in Northumbria about the date of Easter, style of
tonsure, the role of the bishop, and other Celtic ecclesiastical usages
had reached a critical stage, and in 664 a synod met at Whitby Abbey
under Saint Hilda (f.d. November 17) to settle the matter.
Saint Colman was the chief defender of the Celtic customs; Saints
Wilfrid (f.d. October 12) and Agilbert (f.d. April 1) those of Rome.
King Oswy of Northumbria came favouring the Irish view, but accepted
Wilfrid's argument in favour of adopting the practice of the rest of the
known contemporary Church. Thereupon Colman, refusing to accept the
king's ruling in a spiritual matter, resigned his bishopric and retired,
first to Iona and then (c. 667) to Inishbofin off the Connaught coast.
All his Irish monks and 30 English monks went with him and brought with
them some of the relics of Saint Aidan (f.d. August 31).
But the two elements of the community disagreed among themselves
because, as Saint Bede (f.d. May 25) reports, the English complained
that all the work of the harvest was left to them. Apparently, each
summer the Irish monks went off preaching, leaving the Anglo-Saxons to
plant and harvest the fields. So, Colman made a separate foundation for
the English monks on the mainland called Mayo of the Saxons. The first
abbot of Mayo after Colman was an Englishman, Saint Gerald (f.d. March
13), who lived until 732. Bede praises the fact that the abbots of Mayo
were elected, rather than following the Celtic custom as a "hereditary"
Saint Bede (f.d. May 25), who was not in sympathy with the distinctively
Celtic practices, gives a glowing account of the church of Lindisfarne
under Saint Colman's rule. He emphasises the example of frugality and
simplicity of living set by the bishop and the complete devotion of his
clergy to their proper business of imparting the word of God and
ministering to their people.
Alcuin also praised the monks of the Mayo of the Saxons for leaving
their homeland in voluntary exile, where they shone
by their learning among a "very barbarous nation" (Attwater,
Benedictines, Delaney, Farmer, Montague).
Troparion of St Colman tone 4
As an upholder of Orthodox discipline, thou didst show forth in thy
life/ the pre-eminence of holy Tradition, O all-praised Hierarch
Colman./ With great personal sacrifice, thou wast true to thy teachers,/
wherefore we pray that we may unhesitatingly follow our fathers in the
Faith with loyalty and devotion/ and thereby be guided into the way of
Kontakion of St Colman tone 2
By the mercy of our God,/ thy very life was a sermon, O Father Colman,/
light of the true Faith and example of constancy and piety,/ teaching
all by thy selfless devotion./ Praising thee we pray that, withstanding
novelty and innovation,/ we may always give glory to Christ our God.
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