22 August 2016
Columba banished a 'water beast' to Loch Ness on 22 August 565
On this day in history, 565: Columba reports a wild ‘water beast’, which he banished to Loch Ness after it killed a man and tried to attack one of his disciples!
Columba was great-great-grandson of Niall of the Nine Hostages, and is better known for being the missionary who brought Christianity to Scotland, establishing the Abbey on Iona. Many legends surround the life of St Columba, and this particular one, about the Ness water beast was recorded in the Life of St Columba, written by fellow monk (and also subsequently saint) Adomnan in the following century.
Such Lives were invaluable for recording the saints’ lives, and for boosting and maintaining their reputation in the years following their deaths, and sometimes ‘legends’ and local ‘folklore’ were intertwined among the facts of the saint’s biography.
They are well worth a read, as are the books subsequently based on them, rich in history, myth and legend. If you’ve not yet read Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People, for instance, make this the year to get it under your belt. You will be charmed and intrigued we assure you! See an image of a page of the beautiful early medieval manuscript at at http://www.bl.uk/collection-items/bedes-ecclesiastical-history. And listen to an audio recording at https://archive.org/details/history_england_1209_librivox.
Pictured: Columba is known as the ‘Apostle to the Picts’ - as Pictish tribes inhabited Scotland in the 6th century – and his relics were safely stored in the Monymusk Reliquary, which is thought to have been made by monks on Iona.