Find your parish Donate

Signing the Columban Charter of Partnership

The significance of Signing the Columban Charter of Partnership

I am just back from a trip to St. Gallen in Switzerland where I was privileged to attend the ceremonies for the XXIV Columbanus Day 2023. At the heart of the ceremonies this year was the signing of a Charter of Partnership.

Columbanus had never been to St. Gallen founded by his disciple St. Gall who introduced Christianity to that region of Switzerland. At Lake Constance, Gall took ill and separated from the group with Columbanus. Columbanus didn’t take well to this separation and forbade Gall to celebrate Mass until Columbanus had died. Columbanus continued what we know today as the ‘Via Columbani’ to establish his monastery in Bobbio. Subsequently, when Columbanus felt that he was close to his own death, he sent his pastoral staff back to Gall as a sign of healing and reconciliation.

The signing of the ‘Columban Charter of Partnership’ was a public declaration of our intention to promote pilgrimage, cultural and scientific activities relating to St. Columbanus and to his travels and those of his companions including St. Gall, in all regions and countries where their memory remains alive. The countries are Ireland, Britain, France, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein and Italy.

When it comes to Ireland, Kildare & Leighlin have an important place in this partnership as it was in the townland of Rathnageeragh in Myshall Parish on the side of Mount Leinster that Columbanus was born in 543 as determined by the late Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich and other notable historians. The Myshall Friends of Columbanus is a small group who keep alive the memory of Columbanus and his link to our diocese.

I was delighted to join with Brigid & PJ, Patsy & Letitia and Damian & Elaine from that group on this particular trip. This active group supported hugely by Fr. Derry Healy and the Columban team in Dalgan Park, Navan have been promoting The Columban Way/Turas Columbanus which goes through six counties in the Irish Republic, starting on the Wexford/Carlow border. The Way continues to be developed across Northern Ireland ending in Bangor where Columbanus set sail from in 591. The official starting point for The Columban Way is at the Nine Stones, Mount Leinster where I was privileged to bless the Columbanus Bell on February 19th, 2022. It made great sense to travel to St. Gallen over these few days in July where what had started on the side of Mount Leinster has borne great fruit across mainland Europe. Our group included Councillor Andrea Dalton, Cathaoirleach of Carlow County Council who with me signed the Charter on behalf of Carlow County Council and on behalf of the Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin respectively.

Since 1999 there has been an annual gathering of representatives from parishes across Italy and different parts of Europe to celebrate ‘Columbanus Day’. Next year’s XXV celebration is set for Sunday 23rd June in Piacenza-Bobbio.

St. Columbanus, Pilgrim for Christ, pray for us.

St. Gall, pray for us.