Dom Columba Marmion
(1858-1923) 

Forty steps with Columba Marmion

Dom Columba Marmion was born in Dublin ( Ireland) on 1st April 1858. His baptismal name was Joseph. Following brilliant theological studies at Rome he was ordained a priest of the Dublin diocese in 1881. On a visit to Maredsous, an abbey founded in Belgium in 1872, he discovered the Benedictine way of life, an ideal both missionary and contemplative that appealed to him. Later this abbey was to become a well-known centre for studies based on the return to biblical sources, the liturgy, patristics and ecumenism. Professed a monk of Maredsous in 1888, Dom Columba was sent to Louvain (Leuven) in 1899 to help with the foundation of the Abbey of Mont César (Keisersberg). This change presented an opportunity to develop further his gifts as preacher and spiritual director; notably becoming confessor, confidant and friend of Désiré-Joseph Mercier, later famous as Cardinal Primate of Belgium.

Dom Columba was elected Abbot of Maredsous in September 1909. Till his death in January 1923 this entailed the direction of a large monastery then in full expansion, with many attendant responsibilities and problems. In 1917 the first of the versions of his spiritual conferences was published with the title 'Christ, the Life of the Soul'. This was followed by 'Christ in his Mysteries' and 'Christ, the Ideal of the Monk'. Together these books were to have a considerable influence on the spiritual formation of seminarists, clergy, religious and the laity.

The heart of Dom Columba's message: to make us more aware that we can be really and truly the sons and daughters of God through Jesus.