Today in Catholic History – St. Columba sees the Loch Ness Monster

In his life of St. Columba of Iona, St. Adomnan recounts how on the 22 August 565, “a certain water beast was driven away by the power of the blessed man’s [St. Columba] prayer”.

According to St. Adomnan, St. Columba encountered the burial of a man who had been attacked and killed by a savage beast at the River Ness. Despite knowing this, St. Columba ordered one of his followers to swim across the Ness, a command that was immediately obeyed. The follower of St .Columba was attacked by a monster in the river. But before the beast could injure his follower, St. Columba made the sign of the cross in the air and said, “You will go no further. Do not touch the man; turn back speedily”. This caused the monster to swim away and caused those who witnessed what St. Columba had done to glorify God.

This account was written around 690, over a century after St. Columba’s death, and is the first recorded reference to a monster in Loch Ness. The account has been used both as a support for the existence of the Loch Ness Monster by some and viewed with great skepticism by others. Stories of saints encountering strange and terrifying beasts are common in early literature and are intended not to present historical events as we would understand them today but to show the power of God over forces which appear frightening or threatening.

St. Adomnan’s account of St. Columba and the Loch Ness Monster
The St. Columba Western Rite Orthodox Church has an icon of St. Columba confronting the Loch Ness Monster

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