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Monday, 04 March 2024
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Bl Columba Marmion


Bl Columba Marmion was born in Dublin in 1858, and educated at Belvedere College where he was a brilliant student. At 15 he won a scholarship to Clonliffe Diocesan Seminary for five years, where again he excelled and was sent to Rome to complete a doctorate. He was ordained priest in Rome in 1881 at age 23. He served as curate in Dundrum parish and later as professor of philosophy in Holy Cross College, Clonliffe, before entering the Benedictine Abbey of Maredsous, Belgium in 1886. Elected Abbot in 1909, he remained in office for 14 years until his death in 1923.

Famed as a retreat master and preacher, about 1800 of his letters survive, some 300 in English; others in German, Italian, French and Flemish. He was the author of three best-selling spiritual classics:

Christ, the Life of the Soul;
Christ, in His Mysteries;
Christ, the Ideal of the Monk.

These were originally written in French, and have been translated into 16 languages. They were not really 'written' by him, but were based on his notes and on the notes taken by others during his talks. Consequently they are best read a chapter or less at a sitting.

His spirituality was based primarily on the Four Gospels and on the letters of St Paul and St John; he hardly ever quoted the Old Testament, apart from the Book of Psalms. He was greatly influenced by St Thomas Aquinas and St Francis de Sales.

Dom Marmion was beatified in Rome on 1st September, 2000 by Pope John Paul II, who said of him,

Dom Marmion left us an authentic treasure of spiritual teaching for the Church of our time. In his writings he teaches a simple yet demanding way of holiness for all the faithful. May a widespread rediscovery of his spiritual writings help priests, religious and laity to grow in union with Christ and bear faithful witness to Him through ardent love of God and generous service of their brothers and sisters.”