Life of St Columba

Front Cover
Penguin Books Limited, Feb 23, 1995 - Biography & Autobiography - 406 pages
Although related to one of the ruling families of Ireland, Columba (c 521-97) became a central figure in the 'Age of Saints' by setting out from his native land and founding his famous monastery on the island of Iona.

It was from here that priests and monks played a key role in converting the Picts of Scotland, here that countless penitents came on pilgrimages and that the King of Dalriada (Argyll) came to be consecrated. Adomnán's Life, writes Richard Sharpe, is the fullest early account, offering a 'vivid depiction of the abbot among his own monks, written on the spot by the saint's successor one hundred years after Columba's death'.

Drawing on extensive written and oral traditions, Adomnán presents Columba as a man distinguished for his prophetic and miraculous powers, whose life was filled with angelic apparitions and whose dying days were spent preparing for his departure. A stimulating Introduction sketches in the background, the archaeological evidence from Iona and the legends that grew up around Columba in medieval and more recent times. The result is an ideal new edition, equally suitable for readers seeking spiritual insight or the hard core of historical fact.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Michael.Xolotl - LibraryThing

Where is the real Columba beneath the avalanche of prophecy, miracles, visions, and horns of light? I hope he's best glimpsed in the passage where he protects a heron, a pilgrim, like Columba himself and all of us, from across the sea. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - gwernin - LibraryThing

Running to 432 pages, including 10 pages of maps and geneological tables, an introduction (100 pages), the translated Life (134 pages), scholarly footnotes (144 pages), bibliography and index, this is ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

About the author (1995)

St Adomnan was born in Ireland c.628, a descendant of St Columba's grandfather. In 679 he became the ninth abbot of Iona. He played an important role in persuading the northern Irish churches to adopt the Catholic date for Easter, but his most famous work is his Life of St Columba. He died on Iona in 704.


Dr Richard Sharp is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and since 1987 has served as a member of Oxford City Council. He is a Reader in Diplomatic in the Faculty of Modern History and a professorial fellow of Wadham College, Oxford.

Bibliographic information