[St. Pachomius Library]


A small island in the Inner Hebrides, Iona was already a sacred place when St. Columba established his monastery there in 563. Missionaries from Iona travelled to Scotland, northern England, and Europe. Iona was the center of the Irish church until the Synod of Whitby in 664 caused a schism among the monks. Vikings began to attack the monastery in 795, and in 849, the relics of St. Columba were translated to the Kells. A raid in 986 destroyed the monastery, which was rebuilt in the XI Century. In 1154, Iona became a part of the diocese of Man and the Isles, then under the bishop of Trondheim in Norway. Culdees inhabited Iona in the XII Century. The Benedictines established their rule at Iona c. 1203, and in 1266, Norway ceded the Hebrides to Scotland. Iona, which was also the burial ground of several Scottish kings, was a popular destination for pilgrims until it was dismantled during the Reformation.

Karen Rae Keck


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