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:
Christ, vie de l'ame>, appeared in 1917;
in 1919, and
rank "among the classics of Christian spirituality" 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.
monks of Pachacamac sing the "Salve Regina" afer Compline
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:
Master of the Spiritual Life>, and a collection of letters,
the letters of direction of Dom Marmion>. 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
The Abbot of St Meinrad's Abbey, Indiana, discusses the monastic vocation.
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 '
henceforth become classics."
St Meinrad's Abbey, Indiana.
1 D. Bernard CAPELLE,
2 DE GUIDERT, S.J.,
3 P. Francois JANSEN, S.J.,
Taken from "Words of Life" by D. Columba Marmion, published by B. Herder Book Co.
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