St. Ernan, Abbot of Hinba
Lived in the sixth century. He was uncle of St. Columba, and one of the
twelve who accompanied him from Ireland to Iona. He was brother of
Ethnea, St. Columba's mother, and son of Dima, the son of Noe of the
race of Cathaeir Ivor (Reeves, notes, p. 263).
St. Columba appointed him superior of the community which he himself had
established on the island of Hinba. The identity of Hinba has not been
established with certainty. It may be Canna, about four miles N. W. of
Rum (ibid., p. 264); but more likely it is Eilean-na-Naoimh, one of the
Gaveloch Isles, between Scarba and Mull (Fowler's Adamnan, p. 87). Hinba
was a favourite place of resort for St. Columba.
There he was visited by St. Comgall, St. Cannich, St. Brendan, and St.
Cormac. At the request of these holy men, St. Columba celebrated Mass,
during which St. Brendan beheld a luminous globe of fire above St.
Columba's head. It continued burning and rising up like a column of
flame, till the Holy Mysteries had been completed (Adamnan, III, xvii).
On another occasion, while visiting St. Ernan's monastery in Hinba, St.
Columba was favoured with heavenly visions and revelations which lasted
three days and nights (Adamnan, III, xviii).
The death of St. Ernan was tragic. Being seized with an illness, he
desired to be carried to Iona. St. Columba, greatly rejoiced at his
coming, started to meet him. Ernan likewise hastened but when he was
twenty-four paces from his nephew he fell to the earth and died. Thus
was the prophecy of St. Columba fulfilled, that he would never again see
Ernan alive (Adamnan, I, xlv). See Adamnan's Life of St Columba
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