It’s time for ABC Wednesday and this week we are on the letter I.
Come with me to the Isle of Iona in the Hebrides.
We traveled from the town of Oban on the western coast of Scotland by ferry to the Island of Mull and then we boarded a bus to travel down the Island to take a small ferry to the small Isle of Iona.
This little Isle is rich in history and beauty.
History of Iona
St. Columba, an Irish scholar, soldier, priest, and founder of monasteries, got into a small war over the possession of an illegally copied Psalm book. Victorious but sickened by the bloodshed, Columba left Ireland, vowing never to return. According to legend, the first bit of land out of sight of his homeland was Iona. He stopped here in 563 and established the abbey.
Columba’s monastic community flourished, and Iona became the center of Celtic Christianity. Iona missionaries spread the gospel through Scotland and North England, while scholarly monks established Iona as a center of art and learning. The Book of Kells – perhaps the finest piece of art from “Dark Ages” Europe – was probably made on Iona in the eighth century. The island was so important that it was the legendary burial place for ancient Scottish and even Scandinavian kings (including Shakespeare’s Macbeth).
Slowly the importance of Iona ebbed. Vikings massacred 68 monks in 806. Fearing more raids, the monks evacuated most of Iona’s treasures (including the Book of Kells, which is now in Dublin) to Ireland. Much later, with the Reformation, the abbey was abandoned, and most of its finely carved crosses were destroyed. In the 17th century, locals used the abbey only as a handy quarry for other building projects.
Iona’s population peaked at about 500 in the 1830’s. In the 1840’s a potato famine hit. In the 1850’s a third of the islanders emigrated to Canada and Australia. By 1900 the population was down to 210, and today it’s only around 100.
But in our generation a new religious community has given the abbey new life. The Iona community is an ecumenical gathering of men and women who seek new ways of living the Gospel in today’s world, with focus on worship, peace, and justice issues, and reconciliation.
The island is car free. While the present abbey, nunnery, and graveyard go back to the 13th century, much of what you see today was rebuilt in the 19th century.
ht: history and other information taken from Rick Steves’ Great Britain
For more ABC Wednesday go see Mrs. Nesbitt.
Photobucket is holding all my photos from 2007-2015 hostage. I’m working on updating my blog posts very slowly.