CELT document G203001A

Regula Choluimb Chille


William Reeves (ed.), Acts of Archbishop Colton [...] pp. 108-112

It is generally believed that St. Columbkille drew up a monastic rule for the regulation of the numerous religious houses, both in Ireland and Scotland, which observed his discipline. In the discussion between Colman and Wilfrid concerning the observance of Easter, the latter is represented by the Venerable Bede as saying: ‘De patre autem vestro Columba et sequacibus ejus, quorum Sanctitatem vos imitari, et regulam  p.109 ac praecepta coelestibus signis confirmata sequi perhibetis, possem respondere.’ ((H. E. III, 25)) which Colgan, perhaps justly, understands of his monastic rule, although Bede elsewhere seems to be ignorant of such a rule, when he writes concerning Columbkille: ‘de cujus vita et verbis nonnulla a discipulis ejus feruntur scripta haberi.’ ((Ib. III, 4.)) A Life of St. Kieran, quoted by Colgan, recites the names of several compilers of rules, in these words: ‘Numeratur inter octo praecipuos Regularum conditores, quibus Monasteria prope innumera Regni Hiberniae regebantur. Prima enim Regula fuit S. Patricii, secunda S. Brigidae, tertia S. Brendani, quarta S. Kierani, quinta S. Columbae, sexta Sancti Comgalli, septima S. Molassii, octava S. Adamnani.’ ((Trias Th., p. 471.)) Rules answering to most, if not all, of these names are found in the beginning of a small quarto manuscript which belongs to the Burgundian Library of Brussels. It is in the handwriting of Michael O'Clery, one of the celebrated Masters who compiled the Annals, and was transcribed by him from earlier records at the time that he was employed in making collections for that great work. At p. 23 is a rule of Columbkille, which answers to Colgan's description: ‘Aliam Regulam Eremiticam seu praescriptam fratribus in eremo degentibus scripsit, quae penes me extat; et de qua loqui videtur Jacobus Varaeus de Scriptoribus Hiber. lib i. cap. 2. Scripsit, inquit, Columba Regulam Monasticam, quae extat, et vulgo Regula Cholum Kille dicitur. Huius etiam Regulae per me latinè redditae, ipsique communicatae meminit Vir eruditissimus D. Benedictus Haeftenus Praepositus Afflingeniensis lib. i. Disquisition. Monactiar. Tract. 6, cap. 8, ubi inter plura alia ait. Huius Patriarchae (nempe S. Columbae) Congregatio vocabatur Ordo pulchrae societatis.’ ((Trias Th. p. 471, b.)) By the kind permission of the Rev. Dr. Todd, at whose instance a loan of this volume was procured from the Belgian government, the Rule is here put in print, while to Mr Eugene Curry I am indebted for the accompanying translation.


Regula Choluimb Chille

1. Incipit Regula Choluim Chille


Bith ind uathad illucc fo leith i fail primh cathrach, minab innill lat chubus bęith i coitchendas ina sochaidhe.


Imnochta do gres do sechem ar Christ, ocus ar na soscela.


Cech bęcc no mór no muinechtair di cech rét, etir edach, ocus biadh, ocus p.110 digh, acht rob de forchongra senóra ocus a comarlecath, ar ní hinill do chráidbech airbera bith etir nach cruth la a shoęrbrathair féin.


Locc imdaigęn co noęn dorus immatt.


hUathad cráidbech imaradret Dia, ocus a timnai; to tathaigith cuccat illaithibh lithaib; do timnęrtadh i tiomnaibh De, ocus a scélaibh screptrai.


Duine imorro olcęnai conscelaigetar do briathraibh espae, no don doman, no fodorbat ní nat cumcat do íc, no do cumrech, acht is móte fo fęra saeth dęit mat cot nista etir carait ocus eascarait, nir do foemta cuccat, acht beraitt bendachtain fo chettoir mat roillet.


Mog fęr gor craibhdech nemscelach, dia nedta do bith oc do thimterecht, do shaetar mesraighthi bidh cosmail acht is inill.


Commus fo ręir nach aili bescnaidh bęr craibdech.


Męnma erlam fri derccmartrai.


Męnma fossaidh feidhil fri ban martrai. 1


Dilgadh o cridhe da gach aen nduine.


Aurnaighthi gréssach ar in muintir dod cosich.


Lére gabala ecnairce, amhail bidh saincarai irisech dęit cech marb irisech.


Imna anmai issęssamh.


Do choitcęnd figell on trath co araile fo a ręir nęich nach aile.


Tri thorbai isind lóa, .i. ernaigthi, ocus lubair, ocus legenn. Ind lubhair do fodhail a trí, .i. do torba fadęin, ocus do torba do luicc do nęoch bus fir toisc do; araill do cuitigh ina mbrathar; araill do ghor ina cobhnessamh, .i. rob do foircętal do scribęnd, no uaim netaigh; nó cecib torbai olcęna ar na beter indespa, ut Dominus ait, “Non apparebis ante me vacuus.


Cech ní ina urd chóir; nemo enim coronabitur nisi qui legitime certauerit.


Secem derce ria cech ret.


Ni hairbertha bith o biudh combad guirt.


Ni cotalta combad eim lat.


Ni accalta combadh fri toisc.


Nach forcraidh no sechnai do dilęs proinn no do etach fuir tabair fri haircisecht ina mbrathar do coset, no do bochtaibh olcęna.


Serc Dé o uilibh craídibh ocus o uilib nęrtaib;


Sęrc do cobnęssamh samail ut fadęin.


Fedligedh i timnaib De tria san uile namsir.


Do modh ernaighthi so toethsat do dera;


No do modh do obair thorbaigh co toethsat do dera;


No do modh do obair thorbaigh, no do shlechtanaibh co thí hallus comminic manabat solma do derae.

2. The Rule of Columbkille beginneth


Be alone in a separate place near a chief city  2, if thy conscience is not prepared in common with the crowd.


Be always naked in imitation of Christ and the Evangelists.


Whatsoever little or much thou possessest of anything, whether clothing, or food, p.110 or drink, let it be at the command of the senior and at his disposal, for it is not befitting a religious to have any distinction of property with his own free brother.


Let a fast place, with one door, enclose thee.


A few religious men to converse with thee of God and his Testament; to visit thee on days of solemnity; to strengthen thee in the Testaments of God, and the narratives of the Scriptures.


A person too who would talk with thee in idle words, or of the world; or who murmurs at what he cannot remedy or prevent, but who would distress thee more should he be a tattler between friends and foes, thou shalt not admit him to thee, but at once give him thy benediction should he deserve it.


Let thy servant be a discreet, religious, non tale-telling man, who is to attend continually on thee, with moderate labour of course, but always ready.


Yield submission to every rule that is of devotion.


A mind prepared for red martyrdom.


A mind fortified and steadfast for white martyrdom 3.


Forgiveness from the heart to every one.


Constant prayers for those who trouble thee.


Fervour in singing the office for the dead, as if every faithful dead was a particular friend of thine.


Hymns for souls to be sung standing. 4


Let thy vigils be constant from eve to eve, under the direction of another person.


The work to be divided into three parts, viz., thine own work, and the work of thy place, as regards its real wants; secondly, thy share of the brethren's work; lastly, to help the neighbours, viz. by instruction or writing, or sewing garments, or whatever labour they may be in want of, ut Dominus ait, “Non apparebis ante me vacuus.


Everything in its proper order; nemo enim coronabitur nisi qui legitimè certaverit.


Follow Alms-giving before all things.


Take not of food till thou art hungry.


Sleep not till thou feelest desire.


Speak not except on business.


Every increase which comes to thee in lawful meals, or in wearing apparel, give it for pity to the brethren that want it, or to the poor in like manner.


The love of God with all thy heart and all thy strenghth;


The love of thy neighbour as thyself.


Abide in the Testaments of God throughout all times.


Thy measure of prayer shall be until thy tears come.


Or thy measure of work of labour till thy tears come;


Or thy measure of thy work of labour, or of thy genuflexions, until thy perspiration often comes, if thy tears are not free.


Document details

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Title statement

Title (uniform): Regula Choluimb Chille

Author: unknown

Responsibility statement

Translated by: Eugene O'Curry

Electronic edition compiled and proof-read by: Beatrix Färber

Funded by: University College, Cork and Professor Marianne McDonald via the CELT Project

Edition statement

2. Second draft.

Extent: 2254 words

Publication statement

Publisher: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College, Cork

Address: College Road, Cork, Ireland—http:www.ucc.ie/celt

Date: 2004

Date: 2010

Distributor: CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.

CELT document ID: G203001A

Availability: Available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of academic research and teaching only.

Source description

Manuscript sources

  1. Oxford, Bodleian Library, Rawlinson B 512, fol. 40b 2–41a 2. See Brian Ó Cuív, Catalogue of Irish manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford and Oxford College Libraries, Dublin: DIAS 2001–2003.
  2. Bibliothèque Royale, Brussels; MS 5100–4 [transcript by Michél Ó Cléirigh].


  1. K. Meyer (ed.), Mitteilungen aus irischen Handschriften: Regula Choluimb Chille, Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie 3 (1901) 28–30. [Available on CELT.]
  2. Acts of Archbishop Colton in his metropolitan visitation in the diocese of Derry, A.D. MCCCXCVII, with a rental of the see estates at that time; ed. from the original roll, in the archiepiscopal record closet of Armagh, by William Reeves. Dublin, For the Irish Archaeological Society, 1850, p. 108–112.

The edition used in the digital edition

Reeves, William, ed. (1850). Acts of Archbishop Colton in his metropolitan visitation in the diocese of Derry‍. 1st ed. xx + 149 pp. Dublin: For the Irish Archaeological Society.

You can add this reference to your bibliographic database by copying or downloading the following:

  title 	 = {Acts of Archbishop Colton in his metropolitan visitation in the diocese of Derry},
  editor 	 = {William Reeves},
  edition 	 = {1},
  note 	 = {xx + 149 pp.},
  publisher 	 = {For the Irish Archaeological Society},
  address 	 = {Dublin},
  date 	 = {1850}


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Project description: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

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The present text represents pp. 108–112 of the printed edition. The editor's introductory remarks are reproduced in the Preamble. Michél Ó Cléirigh's transcript as printed in Reeves' edition, accompanied by Eugene O'Curry's translation, are given in the main body of the text.

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Correction: Text has been checked and proof-read twice.

Normalization: The electronic text represents the edited text. Text supplied by the translator is tagged sup resp="EOC". The few notes are marked note type="auth" and numbered. Latin phrases are tagged as such. Tall e's are tagged ę and displayed in HTML as e with underscore.

Quotation: Direct speech is marked q.

Hyphenation: Soft hyphens are silently removed. When a hyphenated word (hard or soft) crosses a page-break, this break is marked after completion of the hyphenated word.

Segmentation: div0=the monks' rule; div1=the section; div2=the individual rule.

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Profile description

Creation: Irish text by an unknown Irish monastic author; translation by Eugene O'Curry. 600–900 [Irish text] c.1849[translation]

Language usage

  • The text is in Old and Middle Irish. (ga)
  • Citations and a few words are in Latin. (la)
  • Introduction, translation and notes are in English. (en)

Keywords: religious; prose; medieval; monastic; monks' rule

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(Most recent first)

  1. 2010-11-27: New wordcount made. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  2. 2008-09-30: Keywords added; file validated. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  3. 2008-07-27: Latin citations encoded; value of div0 "type" attribute modified, creation tags inserted, minor modifications made to header. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  4. 2005-08-25: Normalised language codes and edited langUsage for XML conversion (ed. Julianne Nyhan)
  5. 2005-08-04T15:43:34+0100: Converted to XML (ed. Peter Flynn)
  6. 2004-01-28: Header created; whole file re-proofed (2); HTML file created. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  7. 2004-01-27: Text proofed (1). (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  8. 2004-01-27: Text keyed in. (text capture Beatrix Färber)

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  1. i. e. self-mortification and ascetic practices, or bodily chastisement [...] 🢀

  2. episcopal church/city 🢀

  3. i. e. self-mortification and ascetic practices, or bodily chastisement [...] 🢀

  4. If anmai=g. pl. of ainm, 'hymns of names', i.e. Litanies. 🢀


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