St Columbanus can point way to new Christian Europe

Staff reporter

Pope Francis has warned that there can only be true fraternity between the people of Europe if the continent is open to God.

In a message to commemorate the 1,400th anniversary of the death of St Columbanus, Pope Francis said the Irish missionary always had a vision of Europe based on co-operation between people.

Columbanus, the Pope said, understood that it was the “task of all Christians to work together so that the different peoples of the continent could live in peace and unity”.

Pope Francis describes St Columbanus as “a privileged channel of God’s grace” attracting many young people to the monastic way of life at a time when Europe was in need of a re-evangelisation.

“He was convinced that grace is the specific help that Providence gives to every human creature who welcomes, with faith, the love of God in their lives,” the Pope said.

He underlined the fact that St Columbanus emphasised the Sacrament of Confession as an “indispensable means of conversion”.

Francis referred to Pope Benedict’s description of Columbanus as one of the “Fathers of Europe”.

“His great learning, his spiritual energy and his moral style show us clearly where to draw from because, in our time also, such a civilisation can be revived in the European continent,” Pope Francis wrote.