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This year, 2015, is the 1400th anniversary of the death of Columbanus in 615. Columbanus is the most famous Irish cleric to leave Ireland in a form of religious exile, usually referred to as peregrinatio or pilgrimage. He attracted the patronage and opposition of various kings in the course of a tumultuous career, founding important monasteries at Annegray, Luxeuil and Bobbio. He was an abbot, a writer and a politician. Columbanus also contributed to the development of penance, a very important issue for early Christians who were deeply concerned with how to negotiate a safe passage to Heaven. How could they find that road again after straying into sin?

2015 has been a year of commemorating Columbanus, in all his aspects. Dr Rob Meens was the plenary speaker for the 29th Irish Conference of Medievalists. An expert on penance and on Columbanus, Dr Meens lectures in the department of History and Art History in the University of Utrecht. He has numerous publications, both in Dutch and English and is internationally recognised as the leading expert on early medieval penance and penitential practice. His recent book Penance in Medieval Europe, 600-1200 (Cambridge University Press), published only last year, looks set to become the standard text for years to come.

Rob Meens – Columbanus and the Practice of Penance in Early Medieval Europe

About Rob Meens

Rob Meens is Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Utrecht. He has published extensively in the field of medieval religious culture with a particular emphasis on penance and his publications include, Penance in medieval Europe, 600-1200, The Bobbio Missal: Liturgy and Religious Culture in Merovingian Gaul (co-edited with Y. Hen, 2004) and Texts and Identities in the Early Middle Ages (with R. Corradini, 2006). He is general editor of the series ‘Paenitentialia Franciae, Italiae et Hispaniae Saeculi VIII-XI’ of Corpus Christianorum.

The Irish Conference of Medievalists (ICM) was established in 1987 and has met yearly ever since. It is one of the longest running conferences of its type. Since the beginning, the ICM has had the purpose of showcasing the latest research in both Irish and international medieval studies. The ICM welcomes speakers from Ireland and abroad on all aspects of the Middle Ages.

Dr Meens’ plenary was sponsored by UCD Seed Funding and UCD College of Arts and Celtic Studies.

Image: Rob Meens (© Real Smart Media) 

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