St. Columban’s 1400th death anniversary celebrated in Hong Kong

“Greatness lies in bringing people to God and that is why we venerate the life of St. Columban,” Bishop Joseph Ha said.

China
December 11 2015, 6:15 PM
St. Columban’s 1400th death anniversary celebrated in Hong Kong
Bishop Ha during a mass to mark the 1,400th anniversary of the death of St. Columban.

Some 300 people gathered at St. Joseph’s in Hong Kong Central on Nov 21for a celebrationmarking the 1,400th anniversary of the death of St. Columban.

“Greatness lies in bringing people to God and that is why we venerate the life of St. Columban,” Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing of Hong Kong said at a Mass to celebrate the sixth and seventh century saint.

Bishop Ha described him as truly being a saint for our times, calling him a man who lived his faith in a complex, turbulent environment, yet able to inspire others to follow him.

He called his confidence that he could engage with the foreign and readiness to be culturally hospitable an important lesson for our world today, as it stands divided in fear before crazed violence and cold towards those fleeing danger.

Bishop Ha pointed out that the Europe that he arrived in was a hostile place, but he went with a confidence that he could engage with this rambunctious, foreign culture and use his learning to contribute positively to its people’s lives.

“That was the strength of his hope,” Bishop Ha said.

It was not a vain hope, as during his years wandering Europe he set up over 100 monasteries that became famed houses of prayer and learning.

The bishop said that although St. Columban is little known in this part of the world or even in his native Ireland, in the countries that he wandered during his life time, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy, there is widespread devotion to him.

Bishop Ha said that although St. Columban was a monk and fundamentally a man who preferred the cloistered life of prayer and study, this very same prayer and learning prompted him to also be a man of action.

He added that the spirituality he developed inspired him to become convinced that he was being called to preach the word of God, but not among his own people, so he sought permission to leave his native Ireland at the age of 50 and became a self-imposed exile for Christ.

He is known in Ireland today as the country’s first man of letters, being trained in the major Latin authors, rhetoric and the scriptures, as well as the writings of the early fathers of the Church.

Source: Sunday Examiner