The fly, the mouse and the cock of Saint Colman of Kilmacduagh, Ireland (+632) – October 29


The fly, the mouse and the cock

of Saint Colman of Kilmacduagh, Ireland (+632)

October 29



Like many Irish saints, St. Colman lived in harmony with wild nature. Various versions of his life relate the same and truly striking story (though with different minor details) about the communication of the holy man with animals. This story says that a cock, a mouse, and a fly were Colman’s closest friends in Burren. All of them served their holy master as they could. The cock crowed at a certain time every night, reminding the saint of the time for prayer; the mouse gently touched his face, thus waking him up and ensuring that he slept only five hours per day; the fly carefully crept over the lines of the sacred books that he read, and when his eyes got tired or when the saint had to move away for a while, the fly crawled onto the first letter of the following sentence so that he could never lose his place.

The saint loved and fed these faithful friends. Once Colman got so tired that he fell into a very deep sleep and the mouse could not awaken him as usual. Then it began scratching his ear so hard that Colman awoke immediately: he praised the animal and gave it more food from that time on. One day the saint was away for more than an hour, conversing with a guest. On his return he noticed that the fly was sitting without movement on the very word in his prayer-book where he had stopped before leaving. The saint praised the fly for its zeal and began giving it more breadcrumbs with drops of honey as a treat. But by the end of summer all of them died on the same day: the fly was the first and the mouse and cock died after it from grief. In his sorrow St. Colman wrote a letter to his friend, St. Columba of Iona, telling him this story. And St. Columba sent a letter in reply: “When you had these friends, brother, you were rich. That is why you are in sorrow now. Such sorrows come due to riches. So try not to have riches any more.” And Colman realized that one can be rich even without money.

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