Christian: Sail away with St. Columba to Iona

Iona Abbey, part of which was founded by St. ColumbaTHURSDAY, JUNE 9: Turn toward the shores of Scotland today and celebrate the life of St. Columba of Iona, one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland and a Gaelic Irish missionary. According to legend, he even saved a swimmer from the wrath of the Loch Ness Monster.

Although born in Ireland, this Early Medieval saint sailed to Scotland after personal involvement in a large-scale, tragic conflict. (The Telegraph recently published the obituary of a sailor famed for retracing the journey of St. Columba.) Vowing to convert as many as had been killed in the conflict, St. Columba spent many years spreading the Christian faith among Scotland’s Picts from the isle of Iona. After pledging to do more, St. Columba led the region’s center of literacy; acted as a diplomat among Pict tribes; played an active role in Scotland’s politics; and, of course, founded several churches and a monastery.(Wikipedia has details.)

ReadtheSpirit embarked on a fascinating Pilgrimage to Iona in 2007: Follow the story here.

Christian scholars now view St. Columba as momentous in the history of Western Christianity. Several monasteries now bear the name of this famous Celtic missionary, including a recently founded Orthodox monastery in Massachusetts. (Check out the official website here.)

Originally published at, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.

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