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In the sixth century, Irish Saint Columbanus got an A on the faith test, but I can’t help but feel sorry for his mother.

His calling to serve God meant leaving all women behind – even her. If we are to believe his hagiographer, Columbanus quoted Matthew: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (King James version).

He was proving he loved God more than anything or anyone else, so much that he sacrificed his relationship with his own family. And he confirmed her second worst fear, saying that they would never see each other again in this life. Assuming she was a faithful medieval woman, her worst fear would be for him to wind up in hell and be separated from him forever.

I would like to think Columbanus struggled with his decision, but his fear of sin was strong. See my post on English Historical Fiction Authors for more.

Saint Columbanus

Medieval image of Saint Columbanus (public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

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