7th December 521

St Columba is born

Saint Columba was born in Ireland and founded the abbey at Iona, where he died in the 590s, by which point he would have been in his 70s, which was impressive for the time.

He had arrived in Scotland in around 563, having sailed across from Ireland with a dozen companions. Although it is not where he first landed, he eventually settled on Iona, in the Southern Hebrides, close to Mull. From here, he and his followers set about converting the Picts, and writing books and hymns.

The Book of Kells is widely considered to have been produced at Iona. Also known as the Book of Columba, it contains illuminated copies of the four gospels, but was made long after Columba’s death, in around the year 800.

Abbey at Iona

The abbey that they constructed at Iona was built around its church, and consisted of cells for the monks, essential services like the kitchen, rooms for study and work, and accommodation for guests. The original buildings have been replaced over the years by more substantial stone equivalents.

The abbey grew considerably over the next millennium, but fell into disrepair following the Scottish Reformation, and it was not made good until the twentieth century. It was extensively rebuilt in the late 1930s and 1940s and is now home to the Iona Community. The Community, which was founded in 1938 and has its headquarters in Glasgow, is largely independent of larger church bodies, and members are drawn from various religious groups, including both Catholics and Anglicans.

Some of the site at Iona became the property of the National Trust for Scotland in 1980, and later passed to Historic Environment Scotland.



Other events that occured in December

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