Today’s Saint is another Irishman, Columba:
Saint Columba (Irish: Colm Cille, ‘church dove’; 7 December 521 – 9 June 597) was an Irish abbot and missionary credited with spreading Christianity in present-day Scotland. He founded the important abbey on Iona, which became a dominant religious and political institution in the region for centuries. He is the Patron Saint of Derry. He was highly regarded by both the Gaels of Dál Riata and the Picts, and is remembered today as a Christian saint and one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland.
Columba reportedly studied under some of Ireland’s most prominent church figures and founded several monasteries in the country. Around 563 he and his twelve companions crossed to Dunaverty near Southend, Argyll in Kintyre before settling in Iona in Scotland, then part of the Irish kingdom of Dál Riata, where they founded a new abbey as a base for spreading Christianity among the northern Pictish kingdoms who were pagan. He remained active in Irish politics, though he spent most of the remainder of his life in Scotland. Three surviving early medieval Latin hymns may be attributed to him.
As usual, you can read the rest of his story over at wikipedia. Besides the great acclaim that has been given to him for his influence in spreading Christianity through Ireland, England and Scotland (especially the latter), I was intrigued by his fall from grace, as it were. Columba became involved in several disputes, which lead to several battles that resulted from his actions. As penance he devoted himself to missionary work, especially in Scotland, with the goal of converting as many people as had died in battle because of him.
Often times we think of Saints who were sinners as people who were born away from the faith, or left at a young age, and then found their faith late in life. Such wasn’t the case with Columba. Saints like Columba are important reminders that even those who have immersed themselves in their faith are still human, and still vulnerable to temptation and sin.