St Columba's 1500 Anniversary
St. Columba or Colum Cille in Gaelic…? Born of royal blood in 521 AD in Ireland, or Scotia as it was then called, he was the grandson of the Irish King Niall. He left Ireland for Scotland not as a missionary but as an act of self-imposed penance for a bloody mess he had caused at home. He had upset the king of Ireland by refusing to hand over a copy of the Gospels he had illegally copied, this led to a pitched battle in which Columba’s warrior family prevailed. Full of remorse for his actions and the deaths he had ultimately caused he fled, finally setting on Iona.
Once settled, the Irish monk set about converting most of pagan Scotland and northern England to the Christian faith. Iona’s fame as a missionary centre and outstanding place of learning eventually spread throughout Europe, turning it into a place of pilgrimage for several centuries to come. Iona became a sacred isle where kings of Scotland (48), Ireland (4) and Norway (8) were buried.