Irish missionary. Columba was born in Donegal, Ireland. Very
little is known about his early life and education. He stud-
ied at Celtic schools, and in 551 was ordained a priest.
Later, in 563, at the age of 42, he and 12 of his followers
sailed to Scotland, where he established a center of mission-
ary activity at Iona. His labors resulted in reaching the en-
tire island with Christianity.
His ministry contrasted sharply with that of
Augustine, who later came to Britain, in that Augustine rep-
resented the Roman church, while Columba was a product of the
Celtic church of Britain. Revered by both Scotland and Ire-
land as a great spiritual benefactor and saint, he was found
dead beside the altar of a local church where he had been en-
gaged in midnight prayer.
Many historians consider his work and ministry of
promoting Christianity in the British Isles far greater than
that of the first Archbishop of Canterbury.