You may or may not believe that there is an ancient plesiosaur living in Scotland’s Loch Ness. But if there’s not, it might be because it was already banished by a powerful saint in the 6th century.
The earliest recorded mention of the Loch Ness monster dates all the way back to the great St. Columba. Columba is honored as one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland and had an amazing life: he preached the Gospel, founded monasteries, and was known for his miracles. Most of what we know about his life comes from a biography written about him in the 7th century, about a hundred years after his death.
A section on miracle stories contains a curious vignette titled, “How an Aquatic Monster was driven off by virtue of the blessed man’s prayer.” (Chapter 28)
Columba was traveling with some companions, the biography says, when they came to the banks of the River Ness, a short river that flows out of the Loch Ness, and they noticed some people nearby burying a dead man. When they inquired what had happened, the people explained that the man had just been killed by a monster in the water.
Unmoved, Columba directed one of his followers to swim across the river and come back with a boat, and the man immediately obliged.
That’s when the monster showed up.
“But the monster,” the biography explains, “which, so far from being satiated, was only roused for more prey, was lying at the bottom of the stream, and when it felt the water disturbed above by the man swimming, suddenly rushed out, and, giving an awful roar, darted after him, with its mouth wide open, as the man swam in the middle of the stream.”
So what did the saint do?
“Then the blessed man observing this, raised his holy hand, while all the rest, brethren as well as strangers, were stupefied with terror, and, invoking the name of God, formed the saving sign of the cross in the air, and commanded the ferocious monster, saying, ‘Thou shalt go no further, nor touch the man; go back with all speed.'”
And it worked! “Then at the voice of the saint, the monster was terrified, and fled more quickly than if it had been pulled back with ropes…”
Wow! Everyone, including pagans who were watching, broke out in praise to God at his awesome power.
Aren’t the saints so cool??
Now, whether you believe this story or not is up to you. But we should always remember that the power of God is sovereign over everything, including any monsters we may encounter.
You can read more about the great St. Columba’s life in Angelo Stagnaro’s great article on National Catholic Register.