Researchers and fans of the extraordinary are despairing. The number of sightings of the Loch Ness Monster has tailed off dramatically in recent years, so much so that many think the famed creature may actually be dead.
But did you know that the first recorded story about the Loch Ness monster is in the Vita Columbae, the Life of St Columba, a hagiographical text written by one of the saint's descendents and successors, Adomnán, ninth abbot of Iona, in about 697 A.D? The story goes like this:
How a water beast was driven off by the power of the blessed man's prayer
Once, on another occasion, when the blessed man [St Columba] stayed for some days in the land of the Picts, he had to cross the River Ness. When he reached its bank, he saw some of the local people burying a poor fellow. They said they had seen a water beast snatch him and maul him savagely as he was swimming not long before. Although some men had put out in a little boat to rescue him, they were too late, but, reaching out with hooks, they had hauled in his wretched corpse. The blessed man ... astonished them by sending one of his companions to swim across the river and sail back to him in a dinghy that was on the further bank. At the command of the holy and praiseworthy man, Luigne moccu Min ... took off his clothes except for his tunic and dived into the water. But the beast was lying low on the riverbed, its appetite not so much sated as whetted for prey. It could sense that the water above was stirred by the swimmer, and suddenly swam up to the surface, rushing open-mouthed and with a great roar towards the man as he was swimming midstream. All the bystanders ... froze in terror, but the blessed man looking on raised his holy hand and made the sign of the cross in the air, and invoking the name of God, he commanded the fierce beast, saying: "Go no further. Do not touch the man. Go back at once". At the sound of the saint's voice, the beast fled in terror so fast one might have thought it was pulled back with ropes ... [Vita Columbae II.27, text and trans. by Richard Sharpe, Life of St Columba, (London, 1995), pp. 175-76.]
1,313 years later, the stories continue. Nessie even has her own official fan club: http://www.lochness.co.uk/fan_club/. You can see streaming video of Loch Ness via its live webcam. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be the one to finally capture irrefutable evidence of her existence.
Or, visit the Original Loch Ness Monster Exhibit in the town of Drumnadrochit next time you’re travelling through the Great Glen.
I refuse to believe that Nessie is dead, although I still wouldn’t want to meet her, not having St. Columba’s moral authority. Nice story………