The episode may explain why no one has ever caught sight of the water beast since.
The encounter is recorded in an early biography of St. Columba written in the seventh century, and narrates how he rebuked a river monster.
One day when St. Columba was passing by the river Ness he noticed a group of men burying another man. He learned that the man was bitten by a huge monster living in the river and went to investigate. It didn’t take long for the monster to emerge from the water to engulf another man swimming across the river.
St. Columba wasn’t going to stand idle.
Then [St. Columba] observing this, raised his holy hand … 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.” Then at the voice of the saint, the monster was terrified, and fled more quickly than if it had been pulled back with ropes.
Then the brethren seeing that the monster had gone back, and that their comrade Lugne returned to them in the boat safe and sound, were struck with admiration, and gave glory to God in the blessed man. And even the barbarous heathens, who were present, were forced by the greatness of this miracle, which they themselves had seen, to magnify the God of the Christians.
The episode is regarded by many as the first ever written account of the Loch Ness monster and may explain why the mythical beast remains elusive to this day.
St. Columba: 1, Nessie: 0.
Since you are here…
…we’d like to have one more word with you. We are excited to report that Aleteia’s readership is growing at a rapid rate, world-wide! Our team proves its mission every day by providing high-quality content that informs and inspires a Christian life. But quality journalism has a cost and it’s more than ads can cover. We want our articles to be accessible to everyone, free of charge, but we need your help. To continue our efforts to nourish and inspire our Catholic family, your support is invaluable. Become an Aleteia Patron today for as little as $3 a month. May we count on you?