'Blessed Columba Marmion: a Short Biography' by Mark Tierney OSB

'Blessed Columba Marmion: a Short Biography' by Mark Tierney OSB

Michael Daniel

Blessed Columba Marmion: a Short Biography by Mark Tierney OSB (Columba Press, 2000, 150 pp, $33.95.) Available from AD Books.

Blessed Columba Marmion is a short biography of the famous Irish Benedictine Abbot of Maredsous in Belgium, one of the most influential spiritual writers of the 20th century, who was beatified by John Paul II on 3 September 2000. The author, Fr Mark Tierney, is a monk of Glenstal Abbey in Ireland.

Joseph Marmion was born in Dublin in 1858 and commenced his studies for the secular priesthood at Holy Cross Seminary, Clonliffe in 1874. He later studied in Rome and was ordained to the priesthood in 1881. His ministry as a secular priest included teaching at the Clonliffe seminary, as well as convent and prison chaplaincies.

A visit to Maredsous following ordination inspired him to consider seriously a Benedictine vocation. He entered the abbey of Maredsous, in Walloon-speaking Belgium, in 1886, there being no Benedictine monastery in Ireland.

Marmion entered religious life because he wanted "to do the will of God, and to obey" (p. 31). His gifts as a lecturer and preacher were much in demand. In 1899 he became the first prior of the Beuronese study-house at Louvain and in 1909, became the third abbot of Maredsous.

He was to play a key role in the reconciliation of the Anglican monks of Caldey just before World War I, and was himself to return to Caldey in August 1914 as a refugee from the German advance. Cognisant of the importance of an abbot presiding over his community, Marmion returned to Maredsous and diplomatically absented himself from official visits made by the Kaiser and the Governor-General.

He died in 1923 and is remembered chiefly for his three great works of spiritual theology: Christ the Life of the Soul, Christ in his Mysteries and Christ the Ideal of the Monk. Tierney concludes the work with a brief analysis of Marmion's spiritual works.

This biography makes accessible the life of this great spiritual teacher. It is of ideal length and easy to read, providing an excellent introduction to the life and works of Blessed Columba Marmion.

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