Today (31 December) we commemorate Columba of Sens, virgin martyr + 273. From Miss Dunbar:
St. Columba (1), Dec. 31, Jan. 7, July 22, 28, Dec. 17 (COLOMBA, COLONA, COLOMBE, COMBA), V. M. 3rd century. Patron of Sens, and of La Rioja, where her body is preserved. Represented (1) with a bear at her feet eating a man; (2) in chains; (3) beside a fire, which is being quenched by a cloud.
Sometimes called the first martyr of Celtic Gaul. According to the Leggendario delle sante vergini, her martyrdom occurrcd in the time of Aurelian, at Scenona, a city of that undefined region so often referred to in legends ‘the East.’ She was confined in one of the cells, called ‘forni,’ or ‘fornaces,’ under the amphitheatre, and was there defended from insult and violence by a bear. She was next condemned to be burnt, but the fire was extinguished by an abundant rain, although the weather was fine and the sky clear. Finally she was beheaded.
The name she bore in her life is unknown. It is supposed that she was called Colomba from her innocence and gentleness. It is also suggested that the first church was dedicated to the Holy Ghost under the name of Columba, a dove, and that the legend was invented to suit the name.
She is one of the favourite saints in France. Legend says she came from Spain to Sens, and there suffered martyrdom outside the city, where an abbey was afterwards called by her name. There is, however, according to Tillemont, no authority for fixing Sens as the place of her death. Little is known of her history except that she was a martyr, probably either under Marcus Aurelius, Valerian, or Aurelian. A church dedicated in her name existed at Sens in 623, and St. Leu, bishop of Sens in that year, ordered himself to be buried under the eaves of that church that the rain from the gutters might drip on his bones. In the reign of Dagobert there was a chapel in her honour in Paris mentioned by M. Owen in his Life of St. Eloi (Eligius). St. Eloi was ordered by Dagobert to make a splendid shrine for her, which he did, and ornamented her church at Sens. A Benedictine monastery was afterwards built beside the church, and there her relics were kept until they were dispersed by the diabolical fury of the Huguenots.
Her chief festival is the 28th of July. The day of her martyrdom, Dec. 31, is shared with other saints. In
the FM her translation is celebrated Dec. 17.
RM Dec 31. Baillet, Vies. Tillemont, Eccles. Hist. Mentioned in the Martyrology of Usuard, etc., and in the Martyrology of Tallaght.
Tropaire à sainte Colombe de Sens (Natalice en 274 A.D.)
Tu quittas l’Espagne et ta famille païenne*
Pour venir chercher l’illumination en Gaule.*
Tu fus ferme dans la foi lorsque vint le temps*
Des persécutions pour les disciples du Christ,*
Et ton âme par le martyre rejoignit Dieu.*
Sainte Colombe, intercède pour nos âmes!
You left Spain and your pagan family*
To seek illumination in Gaul.*
You were steadfast in the faith when the time came *
Of persecution for the disciples of Christ, *
And your soul rejoined God through martyrdom.*
Saint Colombe, intercede for our souls!
M. Lopez-Ginisty has also composed an Akathist to St Colomba of Sens.
Holy Columba, pray to God for us.