Saint Columba (lived AD 520-593)
is one of the great Irish saints.
The first Catholic parish in Youngstown, Ohio, was organized in 1847 and dedicated to Saint Columba.
The parish was founded largely by Irish immigrants, so it would be natural for them to pick one of the great Irish saints as their patron, one who also had left his home and family to take up a new life in a different country.
CLICK HERE to learn more about Columba's life.
The Diocese of Youngstown was created in 1943, taking six counties (Ashtabula, Columbiana, Mahoning, Portage, Stark, and Trumbull) from the Diocese of Cleveland. Saint Columba Church in Youngstown was designated as the cathedral. A cathedral is the place of the bishop's chair (in Latin "cathedra"). The present building holding the bishop's chair was completed in 1958. (Saint Columba Parish first built a church building in 1853, then 1867, and the third one in 1897. The third one, which became the cathedral in 1943, burned in a huge fire in 1954.)
CLICK HERE to connect to the history of the cathedral on the parish website.
Your parish can learn about the patron saint of our diocese using these lessons:
The Saint Columba Window
From the 1958 booklet, "The Cathedral of Saint Columba, Diocese of Youngstown: An Architectural and Liturgical Explanation:
"Among the sacramental symbols and other designs in the stained glass the artist has placed twenty-three peculiar symbols bearing on Saint Columba and his life....
"The vicious dog appears even before the Saint's birth. Story has it that Connal, Columba's paternal grandfather, saw a strange occurrence while hunting deer one day. Ordinarily the huntsman's dog is trained to stalk and attack its prey but instead Connal beheld the extraordinary. His dog and fawn were gamboling about in friendly play. Pietistically, Connal interpreted this to mean that in his glen 'would be born one who would love and cherish all creatures.' Of prophetic-like bearing this legend points to the crane, the cat, and the wren who were Columba's constant pet-companions in later life.
"In the dove and the church, legend explains in the manner in which he acquired his name. As Baptism he was christened Crimhaun, 'The Knowing One.' It was left to his playmates to give him a more meaningful name. Story has it that his favorite place for play was around the church. The ever-present church dove offered the basis for comparisn. In renaming him 'Colum-cille,' they called him 'The Dove of the Church' and those who wrote it in Latin simply wrote 'Columba.'
"The legend of the fly, the bird, and the cat might seem puzzling at first glance. Yet it is one with a deep moral lesson. Story has it that 'one day when he was grinding wheat...a wren suddenly flew down and caught a fly that was buzzing in the air. A cat spring up and caught the wren.... One would devour the other.' Thus a cat, a bird, and a fly became a monk's point of meditation. 'Did not men act in this wise?' asked Saint Columba 'the larger seizing the smaller, the smaller seizing the smallest.' The incident so typical of man's lust and greed for power, one destroying the other, made a deep impression on the Saint.
"Somehow the personifications of Vision, Achievement, and Prophecy appeared to Saint Columba. They typified his Christianization of all northern Scotland, and the final abandonment of Druid idolatry even before his death.
"Suggesting the miraculous, the stag and the horse recall the incident when at the Saint command tethered together they plowed a bishop's field. If not miraculous, surely the incident points to the unusual, for horses and stags are never seen together much less are they friendly companions. The demon coming out of the well tells the story of Saint Columba's purifying a polluted spring. The cow tied to a tree tells the story of how it was stolen and miraculously found.
"Thus, each stained glass panel has a plot. With the lily of purity, the ox of patience and obedience, the torch of knowledge, the sword of the spirit, the anchor of hope, the corss of salvation and the pomegranate of life everlasting, the hooded monk begins to live again."