From the Scottish Island of Iona the Christian King of Northumbria Oswald asked for a missionary to help convert his people.

It was St. Columba who founded the monastery on Iona. When in his forties a dispute over the copyright of a parchment got out of hand and ended in a huge battle in which thousands were killed. As self-imposed penance for causing the deaths Columba exiled himself from his Irish homeland.

Here on Iona Columba set himself to converting kings and commoners to the Word of God. In this he seems to have excelled, for at one time he had over a thousand monks on Iona. When he came to the island he had been wracked by guilt and remorse, looking for rebirth. In the end through his unceasing work Christianity grew and flourished through out Scotland and through St. Aidan throughout the Kingdom of Northumbria.

Oswald’s first request for a missionary resulted in the arrival of a monk called Corman. But his mission was a failure, he was too hard on the inhabitants of Northumbria. They refused to listen to him  which caused Corman to be more severe and to shout and exhort the inhabitants to become Christians. In the end he returned to Iona accusing the people of Northumbria of being “stupid, ignorant and stubborn”.

In his place St. Aidan and twelve companions set out for Northumbria in 635 AD. Choosing Lindisfarne, Holy Island, as the site of his monastery Aidan set off into the surrounding countryside on his journeys to preach and convert the inhabitants of Northumbria. Aidan was gentle, loving, patient and caring and was thus very successful in his work.

After the death of St. Columba the monastery on Iona eventually faded, no longer the centre of trade and Christianity it had once been. Then in the 20th century the Iona Community was founded.

© Holy Cross Church Haltwhistle 2013