What makes one man's name ring down the centuries, when others who have achieved great things are forgotten or known only to the historians? Whatever it is, supremacy in war, wisdom in government, exceptional villainy, it is not usually saintliness. But then St Columba are was no plaster saint. He was, in fact, a very tough character and had to be to achieve what he did.
Columba is the story of a very human, fallible but courageous and indomitable man, born an Irish prince in the troubled and mainly still pagan sixth century, who rejected the high kingship of All Ireland to be an abbot. Being a mere monk would not have been Columba's way.
Columba was a fighter, and if his methods of fighting the good fight might raise some eyebrows today, let it be remembered against what he was fighting - blood soaked heathenism, allied to sun worship, steeped in human sacrifice, burying alive, witchcraft, devil worship, orchestrated by the all powerful Druids.
Columba fought not only with words but with whatever came to hand, and even then not all churchmen approved. He was in fact excommunicated for his part in the grievous battle of Cooldrevny. Exiled from Ireland, he came to Scotland to saved as many souls - 3,000 - as he felt he had caused to die at Cooldrevny. He did rather better than that, going out from Iona to convert two entire nations and to influence others beyond.