To strengthen thee in the Testaments of God

Saint_ColumbaToday is the feast of Saint Columba (Colum Cille), one of the three principal patron saints of Ireland, the other two being Saint Patrick and Saint Brigid. Here is the monastic Rule of Saint Columba, now in the Burgundian library at Brussels. It was first made available to the public by Dr William Reeves (16 March 1815 – 12 January 1892). Dr Reeves was the Church of Ireland Bishop of Down, Connor, and Dromore from 1886 until his death. Saint Columba (Colum Cille) was the monastic patron of Blessed Columba Marmion, O.S.B. (1858–1923).


Be alone in a separate place near a chief city, if thy conscience is not prepared to be in common with the crowd.

Be always naked in imitation of Christ and the Evangelists.

Whatsoever little or much thou possessest of anything, whether clothing or food or drink, let it be at the command of the senior and at his disposal, for it is not befitting a religious to have any distinction of property with his own free brother.

Let a fast place with one door enclose thee.

A few religious men to converse with thee of God and his Testament, to visit thee on days of solemnity : to strengthen thee in the Testaments of God and the narratives of the Scriptures.

A person who would talk with thee in idle words, or of the world, or who murmurs at what he cannot remedy or prevent, but who would distress thee more, should he be a tattler between friend and foes, thou shalt not admit him to thee, but at once give him thy benediction, should he deserve it.

Let thy servant be a discreet religious, not tale-telling man, who is ready to attend continually on thee, with moderate labour of course, but always ready.

Yield submission to every rule that is of devotion.

A mind prepared for red martyrdom.

A mind fortified and steadfast for white martyrdom. 1

Forgiveness from the heart for everyone.

Constant prayers for those who trouble thee.

Fervour in singing the office for the dead, as if every faithful dead was a particular friend of thine.

Hymns for souls to be sung standing.

Let thy vigils be constant from eve to eve, under the direction of another person.

Three labours in the day prayers, work and reading.

Thy work to be divided into three parts, thine own work and the work of thy place, as regards its real wants : secondly thy share of the brethren s work.: lastly, to help the neighbours by instruction or writing or sewing garments or whatever labour they may be in want of, ut Dominus ait, Non apparebis ante me vacuus.

Everything in its proper order: Nemo enim coronabitur nisi qui legitime certaverit.

Follow almsgiving before all things.

Take not of food till thou art hungry.

Sleep not till thou feelest desire.

Speak not except on business.

Every increase which comes to thee in lawful meals, or in wearing apparel, give it for pity to the brethren that want it, or to the poor in like manner.

The love of God with all thy heart and all thy strength.

The love of thy neighbour as thyself.

Abide in the Testaments of God throughout all times.

Thy measure of prayer shall be until thy tears come ;

Or thy measure of work of labour till thy tears come :

Or thy measure of thy work of labour, or of thy genuflexions until thy perspiration come often, if thy tears are not free.