May the saint preserve us


Columbanus of Bobbio

In a ceremony that took place in the Italian town of Bobbio a few years ago, the Vatican officially endorsed Irish St. Columbanus of Bobbio as the patron saint for motorcycling. I don’t know much about how a saint is selected to be patron for a particular activity. St. Columbanus was born in 543, so I doubt he was a biker himself. So why this individual? It may have something to do with the man principally behind the push. England’s biker bishop, John Oliver.
A man of the cloth, the good bishop is also a man of leather. In sport-bike dominated Europe, he rides a Harley as well as Euro-sport bikes. He is also an outspoken advocate for ecology, calling for “radical lifestyle changes.” It’s very likely this motorcycle-riding tree hugger has been the cause of more than a little ecclesiastical indigestion. And so was St. Columbanus.
Born in Ireland, Columbanus was harassed by the ladies, irresistibly attracted to him, to the point that he fled the country. He rattled around Europe for the next few decades, leaving disjointed noses among the clergy and royalty until settling in Bobbio. King Thierry of Luxeuil had him forcibly placed on a ship to be returned to Ireland. A strange storm came up and blew the ship back to the continent, frightening the captain into releasing Columbanus and his crew. One of the miracles attributed to him was the multiplication of two loaves of bread and a little beer for 60 brethren. This is probably why he is remembered with a “Feast Day” every Nov. 23.
So what is the connection between a 5th century monk, a 21st century bishop and everyone who’s thrown a leather clad leg over a bike? Maybe a little rebellious spirit.

One Response

  1. Willie TKana Says:

    You need to mention the blog more often. You got me so interested in Columbanus at bike night I had to read it myself.

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