Iona – The Holy Island of the Scots (Book of Kells)

Iona is one of the islands of the Inner Hebrides in Scotland. The bigger islands are Skye and Mull. Iona is one of the smaller islands. For centuries Iona was the spiritual centre of Scotland, so we are most interested what is waiting for us.

We chose the short route from Fionnphort, pronounced 'Finnpo'.

Years ago already we have followed the traces of Calum Cille, or St. Columba, to Loch Shiel. This had been on the funeral island of Eilean Fhionnain.

This time travelling was to be much easier so that we took the ferry from Fhionnphort on Mull to Iona.

To avoid the tourist rush we went on a Sunday morning. In the finest of weathers by the way.

We took the road along the coast, passing well-kept gardens and a wonderful view to Mull.

St. Columba Chapel.

It is a short way to Iona Abbey - after less than one kilometre we are there.

Iona Abbey....

The cloister of Iona ahead of us.

A holy well with holy water. Legend says that the end of the world will come when this stone, the 'Clachan Brath', the 'Prayer Stone' is completely scraped off.

From this place Christianity spread to most of Scotland. 

Everywhere you will meet the name of Calum Cille, St. Columba.

'St. Columba's Pillow' which at first way lying beside his grave...

...and later was taken to the abbey.

At the main entrance headsets can be taken along as audioguide. Martina does but I rather concentrate on the optical impressions.

There are lots of them. A church with so many side rooms that you can almost lose your way.

Everywhere funeral sites of Scotish kings like Malcolm II, Macbeth, Duncan I and many others. 

Beautiful windows...

 From here Mull can be seen in the distance.

This window shows St. Columba who died in 597.

During the 5th century Calum Cille began building this cloister which became the centre of Christendom in Scotland.

Of course the Vikings were here, raiding like everywhere else. 

At the end of the 1st millennium the cloister was given up after being destroyed several times.

In the 12th century the abbey was newly built on the foundations of the old one.

The cloister went through the hands of several Scotish clans and in the beginning of the 19th century was rebuilt once more.

Now and then you will find greens coming out of the old stonework.

A baptismal font...

There are, of course, regular services held.

In 1938 the Iona Community was founded as oecumenic community. 

Iona Abbey is under the management of the Historic Scotland society.

A reverent, almost pressing silence...

A small chapel in one of the main church's side rooms.

Again and again there are memorial plaques along the walls.

Now we are in the inner court.

Delicately worked capitals...

On this level is the conference centre of the Iona Community...

...a sculpture called 'Descend of the Spirit'. If they say so...

Beside cloister and abbey we find a small exhibition.

And that is quite a highlight! 

The Book of Kells!

A last glance at the cloister and we proceed to Findlay's Rock, the headland of Iona.


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