Charity registration No. SC002876  
Sunday June 9th. 2013
Our diocese celebrates the 1,400th anniversary of its patron, St. Columba, coming to Iona. 
Columba was born in Gartan, near Lough Gartan, in modern County Donegal in the north of Ireland. On his father's side, he was great-great- grandson of an Irish high king of the 5th century. He was baptised in the County Donegal parish of Conwal, between Gartan and Letterkenny. During the sixth century, some of the most significant names in the history of Irish Christianity studied at the Clonard monastery. It is said that the average number of scholars under instruction at Clonard was 3,000.  Twelve students who studied under St. Finnian became known as the Twelve Apostles of Ireland; Columba was one of them. He became a monk and eventually was ordained a priest. During this time, he is said to have founded a number of monasteries, including ones at Kells, Derry, and Swords. Family feud and voluntary exile Tradition asserts that, sometime around 560, he became involved in a disagreement with Saint Finnian over a psalter manuscript he had copied, and Saint Finnian disputed his right to keep the copy. The dispute eventually led to a violent family feud in which several people were unfortunately killed. Thanks St. Brendan, the great navigator,  who spoke on his behalf, Columba suggested that he would go into voluntary exile and work as a missionary in Scotland to help convert the Picts. He returned to Ireland only once many years later. Columba was in his forty-fourth year when he departed from his native  Ireland. Arrival in Iona He and his twelve companions crossed the sea in a currach of wickerwork covered with hides. They landed at Iona on the eve of Pentecost, 12 May, 563. The island was granted to the monastic colonists by King Conall of Dalriada, Columba's kinsman. He and his brethren proceeded at once to erect their humble dwellings, consisting of a church, refectory, and cells, constructed of wattles and rough planks. Columba’s missionary work and conversion of the Picts After spending some years among the Scots of Dalriada, Columba began the great work of his life, the conversion of the Northern Picts. Together with St. Comgall and St. Kenneth he visited King Brude in his royal residence near Inverness. Admittance was refused to the missionaries, and the gates were closed and bolted, but on making the sigh of the cross over the gates, the bolts flew back, the doors stood
open, and the monks entered the castle. Awe-struck by so evident a miracle the king listened to  Columba with reverence; and was baptised. The people soon followed the example set them, and thus was inaugurated a movement that extended itself to the whole of Caledonia.  The thirty-two remaining years of Columba's life were mainly spent in preaching the Christina Faith to the inhabitants of the glens and wooded straths of Northern Scotland. His steps can be followed not only through the Great Glen, but eastwards also, into Aberdeenshire. The preaching of the saint was confirmed by many miracles and he provided for the instruction of his converts by the erection of numerous churches and   monasteries. One of his journeys brought him to Glasgow where he met St. Mungo, the apostle of Strathclyde. He visited Ireland in 570 to attended the synod of Drumceatt, in company with the Scottish King Aidan, whom shortly before he had inaugurated successor of Conall of Dalriada. Columba’s commitment to God and holiness When not engaged in missionary journeys, he always resided at Iona. Numerous strangers sought him there, and they received help for souls and body. From Iona he governed those numerous communities in Ireland and Caledonia, which regarded him as their father and founder. Columba is said never to have spent an hour without study, prayer or similar occupations. When at home he was frequently engaged in transcribing. On the eve of his death he was engaged in the work of transcription. It is stated that he wrote 300 books with his own hand, two of which, "The Book of Durrow" and the psalter called "The Cathach", have been preserved to the present time. Columba’s approaching death In the spring of 597 he knew that his end was approaching. On Saturday, 8 June, he ascended the hill overlooking his monastery and blessed for the last time the home so dear to him. That afternoon he was present at Vespers, and later, when the bell summoned the community to the midnight service, he forestalled the others and entered the church without assistance. But he sank before the altar, and in that place breathed forth his soul to God surrounded by his disciples. This happened a little after midnight between the 8th and 9th of June, 597.       >>>>>>>
Iona Abbey