ST. COLUMBA of IONA
DRAWING by DANIEL MITSUI
I drew St. Columba (a.k.a. Columcille) standing in a coracle, wearing a monk’s habit and holding an abbot’s crosier. He raises his hand in benediction, while an aquatic monster recoils behind him. This refers to an incident described in a 7th century hagiography written by Adamnan of Iona:
How an aquatic monster was driven off by virtue of the blessed man’s prayer:
This passage is the oldest surviving literary reference to the Loch Ness monster.
On another occasion also, when the blessed man was living for some days in the province of the Picts, he was obliged to cross the river Ness; and when he reached the bank of the river, he saw some of the inhabitants burying an unfortunate man, who, according to the account of those who were burying him, was a short time before seized, as he was swimming, and bitten most severely by a monster that lived in the water; his wretched body was, though too late, taken out with a hook, by those who came to his assistance in a boat. The blessed man, on hearing this, was so far from being dismayed, that he directed one of his companions to swim over and row across the coble that was moored at the farther bank. And Lugne Mocumin hearing the command of the excellent man, obeyed without the least delay, taking off all his clothes, except his tunic, and leaping into the water. But the monster, which, so far from being satiated, was only roused for more prey, was lying at the bottom of the stream, and when it felt the water disturbed above by the man swimming, suddenly rushed out, and, giving an awful roar, darted after him, with its mouth wide open, as the man swam in the middle of the stream. Then the blessed man observing this, raised his holy hand, while all the rest, brethren as well as strangers, were stupefied with terror, and, invoking the name of God, formed the saving sign of the cross in the air, and commanded the ferocious monster, saying, Thou shalt go no further, nor touch the man; go back with all speed. Then at the voice of the saint, the monster was terrified, and fled more quickly than if it had been pulled back with ropes, though it had just got so near to Lugne, as he swam, that there was not more than the length of a spear-staff between the man and the beast. Then the brethren seeing that the monster had gone back, and that their comrade Lugne returned to them in the boat safe and sound, were struck with admiration, and gave glory to God in the blessed man. And even the barbarous heathens, who were present, were forced by the greatness of this miracle, which they themselves had seen, to magnify the God of the Christians.
The style of the drawing is based on 6-9th century Northumbro-Irish art, with its decorative knotwork and lacertine animals.
Medium: Drawing, color ink on Bristol board
Dimensions: 6" × 8"
The original drawing was made on private commission.
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