The Rule of St Columcille

Live alone in a separate place near a city, if your conscience can find nothing in common with a crowd.

Be transparent in the imitation of Christ.

Whatever you possess of anything, whether clothes or food, or drink, it should be at the command of the senior and at his or her disposal. It is not appropriate for a religious to have any distinction of property with their sister or brother.

Be enclosed if you can.

Have a few friends to converse with of God and the scriptures; to visit you on festivals and solemnities; to strengthen you in the promises of God and the reading of the scriptures.

Do not admit a person who wants to talk in idle words, or of the world; or who murmurs at what they cannot prevent, but would distress you, but give them your blessing should they deserve it.

Be submissive to every rule that promotes devotion.

Have a mind prepared for red martyrdom (that is death for the faith) and fortified and steadfast for white martyrdom (that is asceticism).

Forgiveness from the heart for everyone.

Constant prayers for those who trouble you.

Fervour in saying the Office for the Dead, as if every one was a particular friend.

Hymns for souls to be sung standing.

Let your vigils be constant from evening to evening and under the direction of an other person.

There are three divisions in the day: prayer, work and reading. The work is to be divided into three parts: your own work, the work of the place as regards its real wants; secondly your share of your sister or brother’s work; lastly, to help your neighbours by instruction or writing or sewing garments, or whatever they are in want of for, as the Lord says, “You shall not appear before me empty.”

Everything in its proper order for no-one is crowned except he who has striven lawfully.

Give alms before all things.

Do not eat until you are hungry.

Do not sleep until you are tired.

Do not speak except on business.

If you have extra food or clothes give it to your sisters or brothers in need or to the poor.

Love God with all your heart and all your strength and your neighbour as yourself.

Abide in the promises of God throughout all times.

Pray until tears come.



The Legend of the Book of Glass

An angel sent to Columcille from heaven held in his hand a Book of Glass, regarding the appointment of kings.

Having received the Book from the hand of the angel, the saint, at his command, began to read it; and when he was reluctant to appoint Aidan king of Dalriada, as the book directed, the angel, suddenly stretching forth his hand, struck the saint with a scourge, the livid marks of which remained in his side all the days of his life.

And he said: Know for certain, that I am sent to thee by God with the Book of Glass, that in accordance with the words thou hast read therein, thou mayest inaugurate Aidan into the kingdom of Dalriada.