Naoibhein Ri Naomh Calum Cille/Nóibhéine Do Naomh Colm Cille/A Novena to Saint Columba
by Fr Ross S. J. Crichton (Mungo Books/CTS, £3.95; ISBN 978-1-78469-658-0; bulk orders to Mungo Books, 6 Rob Roy Gardens, Kirkintilloch, Glasgow G661DQ)
This little book marks a revival of the Mungo Books imprint, whose principal focus will be on publications of Scottish Catholic interest. Their ambitions have an obvious crossover interest for Irish readers engaged with the wider Celtic realms. The appearance, or rather reappearance of a small publisher in these difficult times is very much to be welcomed.
This little pamphlet (with its low price very much in the traditional Catholic Truth Society mould) is produced as a preparation leading up to the Feast Day of St Columba on June 9, marking the 1,500 anniversary of the saint’s birth – though of course the novena can be used at any time of the year and indeed in several countries.
It has forewords by Bishop Alan McGuckian SJ of Raphoe and Bishop Brian McGee of Argyll and the Isles. Let us hope copies will reach Dublin as well as Derry and the furthest reaches of Scotland.
The short introductory text by Fr Crichton deals with our Celtic heritage and its spiritual substance in the past and now. He emphasises the need for Europe to recover and to preserve and sustain its deep Christian roots, a sort of ecology of the soul perhaps. “The litany was composed,” he writes, “based on titles attributed to St Columba in Gaelic devotions and expanded with new titles based on aspects of his life which feature in Saint Adomnán’s Vita.”
It is unusual in that the text is given not just in English but also in Scots Gaelic and Irish. Aside from promoting a devotion to Colum Cille, it may engage more language enthusiasts here in Ireland with the writings of our cousins across the water, which though they are greatly appreciated by Irish poets, are largely ignored by ordinary readers.
But we have to remember too that Colum Cille had been a warrior, but it was for that he was exiled and so became a promoter of the peace of God, which makes him very much a patron saint for our troubled times.
As Fr Crichton observes: “The cold, harsh winds of the ‘present evil age’ may blow strongly in our time, but the bright flower of faith still stands firmly rooted in its native soil. Through the intercession of St Columba, may the wind of the Holy Spirit breathe new life into the legacy the saint has left us, and may the Faith he preached bloom abundantly once more across the Celtic fringe and beyond.”