The Warrior Monk and Copyright Infringer – Colmcille (St. Columba), Ireland – deported to Iona (circa 600 AD).


The Warrior Monk – Colmcille (St. Columba), Ireland, deported to Iona (circa 600 AD).

Also see “Book of Kells” illuminated Manuscript

In Ireland in the mid-6th-century AD, power depended on the control of information (it seems that there’s not much new under the sun today in the so-called “modern world”). The “warrior monk”  a title claimed by many, but Colmcille, said to Be  a large man for the time was one of the first to be given the moniker!

The “Battle of  the Book” is at the start of the Saints Life, well before He was even noted as a Saint  fought a a battle in the shadow of one of the Emerald Isle’s (Irland) most distinctive mountains – the flat topped Ben Bulbin in County Sligo in the North West. Thee final outcome of the controversy started when Columba secretly copied a Psalter belonging to Abbot Finian of Moville.  This led to the dispute or “Battle of the Book” and eventually the High King’s made His  famous judgement on the issue by stating: ’to every cow her calf, to every book its copy’.

Colmcille had been vindicated, his honour and that of the church restored.  But three thousand Men of the enemy forces lay dead around him and their King and He who opposed Colmcille,  fled the battlefield in disgrace, with his priests and druids with Him. However, King Diarmaid maintained cordial relations with both Christianity and paganism but it had not helped him that day of the Battle in the shadow of Ben Bulben –indeed the battle was said to be fought near a modern day Grave of W.B. Yeats in Church of Ireland (protestant) Drumcliffe Church and Cemetery.

The big man counted amongst the victors’ walking wounded, having received a gash in his side that would leave a scar for the rest of his life. His forces, according to
legend, had suffered only one fatality who had strayed over a magical protective line laid down by the Archangel Michael, the supernatural ally called into the fray by
The Story of Colmcille and the Battle of the Book at Cooldrumman goes under several versions – basically, Colmcille copied another monk’s manuscript. The other monk, Finnian, objected and they settled things  in the way disputes in that time were  Sometimes settled as many versions exist, and  the generally agreed to (by Scholars) is as follows:

A Prince from an Irish noble family, in his youth Columba became a priest and a missionary monk, founding a number of monastic houses in Ireland before the tribal feud and Battle forced him into exile. In 563, he and twelve companions arrived on Iona, at that time part of a colony on mainland Britain occupied by Scots from his part of Ireland. For the next 34 years, Columba and his monks, from their base on Iona, pursued an active missionary outreach, of what has come to be known as Celtic Christianity, throughout the Western Isle and up into the north eastern parts of what is now Scotland. Their wooden and wattle settlement on Iona, large parts of whose boundary vallum, or earth wall and ditch, can still be seen today, came to be known through the area as a centre of learning, healing, and hospitality.Their missionary method was to go out in small groups, set up their huts in the midst of their pagan neighbours (Columba called them “colonies of heaven”), and seek to attract people to the Gospel by their way of life, their care for all, and the preaching and practise of their faith.
Columba died in 597, the same year which saw the arrival in England — from Rome — of Augustine, sent by the Pope to convert the pagan Angles to the Roman style of Christianity. Columba’s successors, still based on Iona, carried on the work he started, extending their missionary reach to the north of England and even into continental Europe. In 664, at Whitby, a synod of the church decided that the Roman style of the faith was from then on to be the dominant one in mainland Britain. The Celtic way continued, albeit with less energy, for some time, still centred on Iona.

In 802, the settlement on Iona was laid waste by a Viking raid. Forty years later, Columba’s remains were removed to Dunkeld, and the monks gradually withdrew to the safer shores of Ireland, taking with them the Book of Kells, which can still be seen today in Dublin. The center of Scottish Christianity shifted east to St. Andrews, and took on a much more Roman style of worship and lifestyle. Thus ended the influence of Iona as a centre of Christian missionary witness, more or less for the next 350 years.



SO, making a Copy of the Book (hence the Name “Battle of the Books”) has a long and distinct history and is nothing new in the World as the spread of Writing was the way information was transferred from One to Another!

Nowadays people can get heavily fined or even jailed for copyright infringement but  it is not generally a capital offence. ?

Some of the BackStory:

It was a dark and stormy night on Thursday, the 7th of December, 521AD. Bruite, an old man lying on his deathbed surrounded by his closest confidants, declared that a
great churchman would be born on that wild night and breathed his last. Many miles away in the North West of Ireland in the (modern name) County Donegal, a infant was born named Colmcille to the royal family of Tír Connell.

A Great-great grandson of the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages, Colmcille would become St. Columba. He also would be “deported” (modern term as no such thing as immigration existed back in the 6th Century, but if a King or ruler of an area told a Man to get out of or leave, it was usually on “pain of death” meaning that He would be killed if He refused to comply) out of Ireland, and settled with other Monks or Priests,  in “Iona” whcih was a small Island in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides.  Wikipedia, notes the following description:

Iona (Scottish GaelicÌ Chaluim Chille) is a small island in the Inner Hebrides off the Ross of Mull on the western coast of Scotland. It was a centre of Irish monasticism for four centuries and is today renowned for its tranquility and natural beauty. It is a popular tourist destination and a place for retreats. Its modern Gaelic name means “Iona of (Saint) Columba” (formerly anglicised “Icolmkill”).

Today, Argyll_and_Bute_UK_relief_location_map



See the Below Web Site of the Island of Iona – which over a thousand Year ago, despite being in a remote area, was the center of Monistic Life and Remain so for centuries sending Men, Holy Men throughout the area, Land and World to spread the Word of God – all die to st. Columba establishing it in the Year 563 AD (or thereabouts)






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