21st November

Opposition Is Not The End

He will persist until he causes justice to triumph, and in him all people will put their trust. Matthew 12: 20, 21

Columbanus trained at the Irish monastery at Bangor, which was rich in its enterprises. Yet he felt impelled to go out to the great continent, where so much of the Christian heritage was being swept away, and eventually he was given permission to leave with twelve other monks. They travelled across what is now France, through the ruins of former Roman cities. The poor people who lived in the shadow of these ruins welcomed the brothers and their faith was transplanted.

When they reached northern Gaul several local kings welcomed them, since, whatever their personal life-style, they held men of God in respect. Columbanus told King Sigebert: ‘He who seeks nothing has need of nothing. My sole ambition is to follow Christ’. The king was so struck by this that he offered Columbanus land; he, however, was shrewd enough to realise that kings slaughtered one another, so he chose some land for a monastery on neutral territory in the Vosges mountains. Although winter was approaching, they set aside their own needs for comfort and built a place of prayer before they built their own bee-hive shaped cells.

Starvation threatened them, but a man whose wife had been cured in response to their prayers gave them food supplies. Crowds began to flock to them, and guest accommodation had to be built. The number of monks increased, so another monastery was built, at Luxeuil, and then a third.

Once a service to the people of the kingdom had been established, Columbanus turned his attention to the king, Theodoric. He tried to wean him away from his many mistresses and to persuade him to marry, which he did. The power behind the throne, however, the king’s grandmother, Brunhilda, soon sent the new queen packing, and declared unofficial war on Columbanus’ monasteries. Eventually Columbanus was ordered out of their territory, but on their way to the port crowds flocked to the monks. Moreover, the boat on which they were to be transported back to Ireland struck a sandbank, and the captain discharged his passengers. So the monks became free again.

Faithful God, teach me that defeat, if given to you,
is your opportunity for a new advance.
Help me to remain faithful in every setback today