Iona Abbey from water

Photograph of Iona Abbey from the water, as it looks in the 21st century.

Detail map of Luxeuil-les-Bains, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, France,Corbie, Hauts-de-France, France,Isle of Iona, Scotland, United Kingdom,Holy Island, Berwick-upon-Tweed, England, United Kingdom,Malmesbury, England, United Kingdom,Bobbio, Emilia-Romagna, Italy,St. Gallen, Sankt Gallen, Switzerland

A: Luxeuil-les-Bains, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, France, B: Corbie, Hauts-de-France, France, C: Isle of Iona, Scotland, United Kingdom, D: Holy Island, Berwick-upon-Tweed, England, United Kingdom, E: Malmesbury, England, United Kingdom, F: Bobbio, Emilia-Romagna, Italy, G: St. Gallen, Sankt Gallen, Switzerland

From the Monastery on the Small Island of Iona, St Columba Converts Pagan Scotland and Much of Northern England

Circa 563 CE
Saint Columba

Saint Columba depicted in a stained glass window in Iona Abbey.

Saint Columba (View Larger)

Exiled from his native Ireland, in 563 Saint Columba founded with 12 companions a monastery on the small island of Iona in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. From there the monks undertook the conversion of pagan Scotland and much of northern England to Christianity. Iona's fame as a place of learning and Christian mission spread throughout Europe. It became a major site of pilgrimage, and the burial ground of several kings of Scotland, Ireland and Norway.

"The establishment of Iona as the centre of Celtic Christianity outside Ireland by Columba c. 563 marked the effective beginning of the conversion of Scotland and led on in time to the foundation of such important monasteries as Lindisfarne in Northumbria and Malmesbury in the south-west. Even more spectacular was the continental mission of Columbanus [not to be confused with Columba] who blazed a trail accross Europe marked out by such important monastic foundations as those of Luxeuil in Burgundy (590), from which Corbie was founded a century later, Bobbio in northern Italy (614) and Saint Gall, which developed from a hermitage which his pupil Gallus established in Switzerland c. 613" (Reynolds & Wilson, Scribes and Scholars 3rd ed [1991] 87).

Timeline Themes