We are very pleased that the ‘Iona Project’ has been completed. In addition to the three new bed-sitting rooms we have a new therapy room with a lovely view over the valley.
Today was the opening of the therapy room. We had live music and an the official ribbon cutting! Following a community consultation, it was decided it will be called 'Columba'. A piece was read on why this name was chosen, which you can read below.
Lying off the west coast of the Isle of Mull the tiny Isle of Iona, barely three miles long by one mile wide, has had an influence out of all proportion to its size on the establishment of Christianity in Scotland, England and throughout mainland Europe.
Columba was an Irish abbot and missionary evangelist credited with spreading Christianity here in Scotland. He founded the abbey on Iona, which went on to become a dominant religious and political institution renowned for literacy, learning and worship.
Columba was born on 7 December 521. In Ireland he was commonly known as Colmcille which means ‘the dove of the church’. He became widely known as Columba which is the Latin form of Colmcille.
Columba studied under some of Ireland's most prominent church figures and founded several monasteries in the country. Early in his life, he was educated at the monastic school of Movilla, at Newtownards, under Finnian of Movilla who had studied at Ninian's "Magnum Monasterium" on the shores of Galloway. He was about twenty, and a deacon when, having completed his training at Movilla, he travelled southwards into Leinster, where he became a pupil of an aged bard named Gemman.
In 563, he travelled to Scotland with twelve companions in a wicker currach (boat) covered with leather. According to legend he first landed on the Kintyre Peninsula, near Southend. However, being still in sight of his native land, he moved farther north up the west coast of Scotland.
The island of Iona was made over to him by his kinsman Conall mac Comgaill King of Dal Riata, who perhaps had invited him to come to Scotland in the first place. However, there is a sense in which he was not leaving his native people, as the Ulster Gaels had been colonising the west coast of Scotland for the previous couple of centuries.
Aside from the services he provided guiding the only centre of literacy in the region, his reputation as a holy man led to his role as a diplomat among the tribes. There are also many stories of miracles which he performed during his work to convert the Picts, the most famous being his encounter with an unidentified animal that some have equated with the Loch Ness Monster in 565. It is said that he banished a ferocious "water beast" ‘never to return’ to the depths of the River Ness after it had killed a Pict and then tried to attack one of Columba's disciples.
He visited the pagan King Bridei, King of Fortriu, at his base in Inverness, winning Bridei's respect, although not his conversion. He subsequently played a major role in the politics of the country. He was also very energetic in his work as a missionary, and, in addition to founding several churches in the Hebrides, he worked to turn his monastery at Iona into a school for missionaries. He was a renowned man of letters, having written several hymns and being credited with having transcribed 300 books.
Columba spent the rest of his life on Iona, praying, fasting, and teaching his monks to read and copy the Scriptures. He provided inspiration for their missionary efforts and was influential for a time in the politics of Scotland. Long before his death in 597 he was regarded as a saint by his fellow monks and is today a beloved figure in Irish tradition.
The site of Dunkeld cathedral has been holy ground since about 730AD when Celtic missionaries built the first monastery there.
The Cathedral is dedicated to St Columba. It is said that after their journey from Iona his relics were buried under the chancel steps to keep them safe. The dove motif, symbolic of St Columba's name, can be seen in both the East Window and on the specially woven chancel carpet. Camphill of course also have the symbol of the dove.
St Columba was a great and passionate inspirational teacher, who encouraged all to learn and develop to their best potential, offering a place of pilgrimage and education which remains to this day.
We agreed that it was a very fitting to name our new guest, therapy and teaching space after Columba.