A new statue of St Columba was blessed in the city of Derry on Wednesday 7 December.
This date is given as the anniversary of the saint’s birth in Gartan, County Donegal, in 521AD.
Exactly 1,490 years to the day, Long Tower Primary School unveiled its new life-size marble work of art. It was commissioned by Fr Roland Colhoun during his time as chaplain to the school. Although he is now serving in a new parish he managed to complete the assignment by having the statue sculpted and put in place. He returned to the school to bless the statue on the birthday of St Columba.
The statue is sculpted in white marble and shows Columba in traditional posture, imparting a blessing with his right hand.
In his left hand he bears a scroll with the words uttered on June 8 597AD, the day before he died.
The inscription reads: “I leave my soul to Derry,” expressing his wish to be forever present in the place of his first monastic foundation. The statue stands on a marble plinth with a logo of a dove and an inscription of the saint’s name in Irish, Naomh Colmcille, Colmcille meaning “Dove of the Church”. This logo honours the pet-name that Columba held from childhood, expressing the admiration of his kinsfolk for the hours he used to spend in prayer.
The marble structure is held in place by stainless steel dowels, exactly three of them to honour the Trinity. The plinth is surrounded with elegant paving, each brick nine inches in length to honour the feast day of St Columba, marking the date of his death in 597AD.