Dom Columba Marmion

Author: Unknown

Dom Columba Marmion +1923

Born in Dublin in 1858 of an Irish father and a French mother, Joseph Marmion, his secondary studies finished, was received at the seminary of Clonliffe. He completed his preparation for the priesthood in Rome. Ordained priest in the Eternal City in 1881, he was appointed professor of philosophy at Clonliffe Seminary. A visit to Maredsous on returning from Italy was the occasion of his call to the monastic life. In 1886 he sought admittance to this Belgian Abbey as a novice. Admitted to profession, different charges were assigned to him; he was soon named professor of philosophy, then in 1899 sent as prior and professor of theology to Mont-Cesar at Louvain, where he remained ten years. He was appointed Abbot of Maredsous in 1909, where he died on January 30th, 1923, leaving behind him the memory of a great monk of intense inner life, of a consummate theologian, and of a contemplative and apostle of indefatigable zeal.

Dom Columba Marmion's spiritual conferences are gathered up in three volumes: , appeared in 1917; was published in 1919, and issued from the press in 1922. These books rank "among the classics of Christian spirituality"[1] and they have won for their author, from theologians and spiritual writers belonging to divers schools, the title of "master" and even of "doctor" of the spiritual life. Bishops and princes of the Church have ratified these judgments; the Sovereign Pontiff Benedict XV used Dom Marmion's conferences (to employ the Pope's own words) "for his spiritual life"; and speaking to Mgr. Szepticky, Archbishop of Lemberg, the Vicar of Christ said, pointing to one of the volumes: " Read that; it is the pure doctrine of the Church." Thus the diffusion of his works has been extremely rapid.

" This unanimous welcome given by the Catholic world" (R. P. Doncoeur, S.J.) is justified by a sum total of qualities rarely met with to such a degree: Dom Marmion's work is entirely based on dogma and Catholic theology; it is an organic and living synthesis. And as Christian doctrine and doctrine and piety gravitate around the Person and work of Christ, the author has no other ambition than to make the Divine Figure of the Incarnate Word stand out in full light and in strong relief.

With this end in view, he has constant recourse to the Holy Scriptures, or rather it is the sacred book itself which is the source whence springs the harmonious development and fruitful application of his teaching. Hence the fragrance of prayer which emanates from his books. Cardinal Mercier, who had taken Dom Marmion as his confessor, said: " Dom Columba makes one touch God." Always, at each of his pages, he is bathed in a spiritual atmosphere, an atmosphere of prayer. Hence also light, security and peace.

To this biology two volumes are joined: a biography: , and a collection of letters, . These volumes, by making us enter into the intimacy of this Doctor of the spiritual life, add fresh strength to his doctrine.

Of the biography, readers delight in repeating that it is a splendid, inspiring work; that from it may be gained a more complete and deeper knowledge of Dom Marmion's inner life. We will content ourselves with the following testimony: " This well composed work, written with distinction and sobriety, and moreover so full of good doctrinal pith, bears advantageous comparison with many a 'Treatise on Christian perfection'."[2]

Crowning these works the collection of spiritual letters reveals to us with yet further spontaneity the soul of whom Christ was truly the life. These pages, wherein Dom Marmion shows himself especially as an eminent spiritual director, constitute above all things a treasury of doctrine. We here find once more a work of a deeply spiritual character which is never at fault and flows from the abundance of the heart and of experience. This experience, joined to a psychological penetration beyond the common as well as to the most comprehensive and gentlest charity, makes his words find their way to the heart. Of this work it could be written: "Dom Marmion excelled in the delicate art of letter-writing. As his doctrine was very simple and very deep, his direction established the soul in conviction, light and peace. This collection of Dom Marmion's Letters will abundantly diffuse the boon of his teaching. It is a boon which admirably completes the '' (of Dom Marmion's spiritual works) henceforth become classics."[3]


1 D. Bernard CAPELLE, , February, 1934.

2 DE GUIDERT, S.J., , April 1930, P. 204.

3 P. Francois JANSEN, S.J., 1930, p. 614.

Taken from "Words of Life" by D. Columba Marmion, published by B. Herder Book Co.

Copyright (c) 1996 EWTN