Thursday 26 November 2015

Saint Columbanus and the Miracle of Water from the Rock

Canon O'Hanlon brings us another vignette from the Life of Saint Columbanus, this time heavily-laden with Old Testament allusions, as he describes how our saint is able through his prayers to make water flow from a rock:

On the occasion of his many retreats to the solitudes of the forest, the Saint suffered the extremities of hunger for whole days. He lived upon wild herbs and berries, which the woods furnished, and he often remained altogether apart from his companions. His drink was water. A certain youth, named Domoaldis, was commissioned by Columban and his monks to bear messages between them, and this boy was alone witness to many of the austerities of our Saint. Columban remained for several days on the brow of a precipitous rock, very difficult of access, and Domoaldis, who chanced to be with him, complained in an undertone of voice, that they should be obliged to procure water at a distance, and that it must be conveyed with great toil up the side of the steep. Upon this, Columban desired the boy to scoop out a hollow in the rock, and he obeyed. The holy man knelt down, and besought the Lord, that he would look upon them with a favourable eye. Thereupon, a rill of water issued from the rock, and the spring continued perpetually running from that time. Hence we may admire the wonderful condescension of Almighty God, to the requests of his chosen servants, who with faith and hope prefer their petitions to him. For he himself has given the assurance, "All things whatsoever you ask, believe that you shall obtain and they shall be rendered unto you." This consolatory promise to the holy man was often realized, even in the presence of multiplied difficulties.*

* Jonas, Vita S. Columbani. n. 16.

Rev. John O'Hanlon, ' Life of Saint Columbanus, Abbot of Luxeu' in The Irish Harp: a monthly magazine of national and general literature: Volume 1, 1-4 (1863), 112.

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