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Born in Connaught, Ireland, c. 605; died on Inishbofin, 676 (some chronicles give it as 672, 674, or 675; some parts of Ireland celebrate his feast on August 8.

Saint Colman became a monk at Iona under Saint Columba (f.d. June 9) and c. 661 succeeded Saint Finan (f.d. February 17) as the third abbot-bishop of Lindisfarne, the most important monastery in Northumbria, England, close to the royal castle at Bamburg. At that time the disagreement in Northumbria about the date of Easter, style of tonsure, the role of the bishop, and other Celtic ecclesiastical usages had reached a critical stage, and in 664 a synod met at Whitby Abbey under Saint Hilda (f.d. November 17) to settle the matter.

Saint Colman was the chief defender of the Celtic customs; Saints Wilfrid (f.d. October 12) and Agilbert (f.d. April 1) those of Rome. King Oswy of Northumbria came favouring the Irish view, but accepted Wilfrid's argument in favour of adopting the practice of the rest of the known contemporary Church. Thereupon Colman, refusing to accept the king's ruling in a spiritual matter, resigned his bishopric and retired, first to Iona and then (c. 667) to Inishbofin off the Connaught coast. All his Irish monks and 30 English monks went with him and brought with them some of the relics of Saint Aidan (f.d. August 31).

But the two elements of the community disagreed among themselves because, as Saint Bede (f.d. May 26) reports, the English complained that all the work of the harvest was left to them. Apparently, each summer the Irish monks went off preaching, leaving the Anglo-Saxons to plant and harvest the fields. So, Colman made a separate foundation for the English monks on the mainland called Mayo of the Saxons. The first abbot of Mayo after Colman was an Englishman, Saint Gerald (f.d. March 13), who lived until 732. Bede praises the fact that the abbots of Mayo were elected, rather than following the Celtic custom as a "hereditary" monastery.

Saint Bede (f.d. May 26), who was not in sympathy with the distinctively Celtic practices, gives a glowing account of the church of Lindisfarne under Saint Colman's rule. He emphasises the example of frugality and simplicity of living set by the bishop and the complete devotion of his clergy to their proper business of imparting the word of God and ministering to their people.

Alcuin also praised the monks of the Mayo of the Saxons for leaving their homeland in voluntary exile, where they shone by their learning among a very barbarous nation (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Farmer, Montague).

Troparion of St Colman
Tone 4
As an upholder of Orthodox discipline, thou didst show forth in thy life
the pre-eminence of holy Tradition, O all-praised Hierarch Colman.
With great personal sacrifice, thou wast true to thy teachers,
wherefore we pray that we may unhesitatingly follow our fathers in the Faith with loyalty and devotion
and thereby be guided into the way of salvation.

Kontakion of St Colman
Tone 2
By the mercy of our God,
thy very life was a sermon, O Father Colman,
light of the true Faith and example of constancy and piety,
teaching all by thy selfless devotion.
Praising thee we pray that, withstanding novelty and innovation,
we may always give glory to Christ our God.

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