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The Columba Connection

Columba or Columcille lived during the 6th Century AD and was the greatest of the Celtic saints. Native to Ireland, Columba found himself exiled to the Scottish island of Iona on account of a confrontation between Finnian of Clonard and himself. Tradition has it that Finnian was the proud owner of a psalter (the Book of Psalms from Holy Scripture) and, each night, Columba would surreptitiously copy extracts from Finnian's Book.

St ColumbaIt was not long before Columba's intrigue was exposed and he was brought before the local King, Diarmat. Diarmit pronounced Columba guilty and went on to breach monastic sanctuary by seizing a friend of the saint's. This was too much for Columba and he persuaded his own clan to join battle with Diarmit, a battle which Columba's men won but not before 3,000 lives were lost.

Many were critical of Columba for apparently spending human lives to satisfy his own sense of righteousness - excommunication and exile soon followed. Columba sailed for Scotland and swore to set up a monastery as soon as he was out of sight of his native Ireland, eventually settling on the island of Iona and established the Iona Community. History stresses Columba's role in Christianising Scotland but it is likely that many were already converted through the preaching of St Ninian long before Columba entered the stage.

Columba himself never set foot on Lewis but it is generally accepted that Catan, one of his followers, established a cell on the site at Uidh, hence the name given to the Church built on that site.

You can view the Columba trail through the Hebrides via the St Columba's website

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