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Vita Columbae

BY: ADOMNÁN OF IONA

Vita Columbae or Life of Columba was a 3 book series of the life of Saint Columba, an Irish abbot and missionary who spread Christianity throughout Scotland. The book was probably written sometime between 697 and 700 CE. This book includes an important entry for cryptozoology. It is believed to include the first written report of The Loch Ness Monster or, otherwise known as, Nessie.

In Chapter XXVIII of book II, the text tells us that in 565 CE St. Columba had come across some locals who had attempted to bury a man who had been attacked by a monster that came from The River Nesa(Ness). Soon after, the beast had started swimming towards the saint and his followers so St. Columba raised his hand and said: "Thou shalt go no further, nor touch the man; return with all speed."

The full account goes like this:

'On another occasion also, when the blessed man was living for some days in the province of the Picts, he was obliged to cross the river Nesa (the Ness); and when he reached the bank of the river, he saw some of the inhabitants burying an unfortunate man, who, according to the account of those who were burying him, was a short time before seized, as he was swimming, and bitten most severely by a monster that lived in the water; his wretched body was, though too late, taken out with a hook, by those who came to his assistance in a boat.'

'The blessed man, on hearing this, was so far from being dismayed, that he directed one of his companions to swim over and row across the coble that was moored at the farther bank. And Lugne Mocumin hearing the command of the excellent man, obeyed without the least delay, taking off all his clothes, except his tunic, and leaping into the water. But the monster, which, so far from being satiated, was only roused for more prey, was lying at the bottom of the stream, and when it felt the water disturbed above by the man swimming, suddenly rushed out, and, giving an awful roar, darted after him, with its mouth wide open, as the man swam in the middle of the stream. Then the blessed man observing this, raised his holy hand, while all the rest, brethren as well as strangers, were stupefied with terror, and, invoking the name of God, formed the saving sign of the cross in the air, and commanded the ferocious monster, saying, "Thou shalt go no further, nor touch the man; go back with all speed."'

'Then at the voice of the saint, the monster was terrified, and fled more quickly than if it had been pulled back with ropes, though it had just got so near to Lugne, as he swam, that there was not more than the length of a spear-staff between the man and the beast. Then the brethren seeing that the monster had gone back, and that their comrade Lugne returned to them in the boat safe and sound, were struck with admiration, and gave glory to God in the blessed man. And even the barbarous heathens, who were present, were forced by the greatness of this miracle, which they themselves had seen, to magnify the God of the Christians.'