WHEN the Anglican community of Caldey was considering its conversion, one of those invited to offer spiritual guidance was the Irish Benedictine, Dom Columba Marmion. in 1954, the Cause for his beatification was officially opened, Joseph Columba Marmion was born in 1858 in Dublin, where his father was a successful businessman. His mother was French.
He was educated at the Jesuit School, Belvedere, Holy Cross Seminary at Clonliffe and the College of Propaganda. For some years, he taught philosophy at Clonliffe College, and then decided to enter the Benedictines at Maredsous, Belgium. By 1899, he had become prior of. Mont Cesar, Louvain, where he also held the Chair of dogmatic theology at the university.
Dom Columba had already become one of the most outstanding members of his order. His whole personality and his writings made him the object of invitations from far and wide to lecture, counsel and conduct retreats. It was quite natural, therefore, that he should have been invited to counsel the community at Caldey, which at the time was the centre of attention throughout the Christian world.
In 1909, he became abbot of the famous abbey of Maredsous in Belgium. When the war broke out in 1914, he led his community out of Belgium to Ireland, an episode which led in due course to the re-establishment there of the Benedictine Order. Not surprisingly, the Benedictine Abbey, Glenstall, in Ireland is under his patronage. So is Marmion Abbey in Illinois. USA, Dom Columba is one of those servants of God who follow in the ancient tradition of the Irish monks of the Golden Age, the Exiles for Christ. It has never been a national practice in Ireland to place such saintly Irishmen on the same level as those whose cults are sustained within Ireland itself. Dorn Columba died in Belgium and his devotees are principally there.
It so happens, however, that he played an important role in the destiny of Ireland. It is well known that the massive interest which grew all over the world in the affairs of Ireland, and which played a significant part in bringing about a settlement, was due to expatriate Irishmen. It is also well known that one of the most publicised demonstrations of this came from Belgium, and the moving spirit behind it was Dom Columba Marmion, The years after the war of 1914-191g were a tragic time for Ireland, culminating in the years 1920-1922. Like so many other Irish exiles, Dom Columba grieved continually for the sufferings of his native land, The Black and Tans were active. the Catholic minority of Ulster was living under pogrom conditions, and Irishmen themselves were divided over solutions.
The Irish bishops, looking everywhere for a mediator to intercede for Ireland. turned to Cardinal Mercier of Belgium.
The statement issued by Cardinal Mercier created the maximum interest at the time. Its whole tone reflected the influence of his great friend, Dom Columba. For apart from the Cardinal's condemnation of the sufferings of the Irish people, he stressed the debt which Belgium. among other nations of Europe, owed to the early missionaries from Ireland. He went on to list them by name.
Dont Columba was well known for his work among the Belgian people who had suffered more than any other as a result of the World War. His efforts were officially recognised when on June 9, 1920, the feast of St Columba, Dom Columba's patron. Queen Elizabeth of Belgium, presented to the Abbey of Maredsous a magnificent chalice. It was a graceful compliment to Dom Columba, and to Ireland that the ornamentation around the chalice consisted of golden shamrocks.