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Iona (Hy), Abbey of


Former monastery on the island of Iona, part of the Inner Hebrides, Argyllshire, Scotland (Latin, Insula Iova, of which Iona is a misreading). This Celtic island monastery, which was founded in 563 by columba of iona and was ruled by priest-abbots, was the most distinguished center of Irish religious life up to the end of the 7th century. Its phenomenal growth was attributable in part to the fact that Columba and his successors (usually his kinsmen) were closely related to Irish kings. Iona was regarded as the head of the Irish Church and of the Christian Scots in North Britain. From it the Picts received the faith and Columba's successors converted the English of Northumbria (c. 637) in less than half a century. Controversy about the acceptance of Roman customs after the decision of Whitby in 664 split its monks and precipitated its decline. However, until the Scandinavian raids of the 9th century (see normans), Iona remained the primatial church in the paruchia (which consisted of at least 42 churches in Ireland and 57 in Scotland). Then the primacy passed to abbots in Ireland, usually to kells. Iona had a brief period of resurgence c. 844, when Kenneth mac Alpin succeeded to the Pictish throne. There were culdees at Iona in the 12th century, and it remained Celtic to c. 1204, when the benedictines took over. Iona was dissolved and dismantled during the Reformation in Scotland.

Bibliography: Adamnan's Life of Columba, ed. and tr. a. o. and m. o. anderson (New York 1962). a. o. anderson, ed. and tr., Early Sources of Scottish History, A.D. 5001286, 2 v. (Edinburgh 1922) 1:1771. w. reeves, ed., The Life of St. Columba by Adamnan (Dublin 1857). a. bellesheim, History of the Catholic Church of Scotland, tr. d. o. hunter-blair, 4 v. (Edinburgh 188790) 1:55148. r. a. s. macalister, "An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Iona," in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 48 (191314) 421430. h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. f. cabrol, h. leclercq, and h. i. marrou, 15 v. (Paris 190753) 7.2:142561. j. f. kenney, The Sources for the Early History of Ireland: v.1, Ecclesiastical (New York 1929) 1:422448, 629630. a. k. porter, The Crosses and Culture of Ireland (New Haven 1931) 3862. w. bonser, An Anglo-Saxon and Celtic Bibliography, 4501087, 2 v. (Berkeley 1957). f. l. cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (London 1957) 699700. d. e. easson, Medieval Religious Houses: Scotland (London 1957).

[c. mcgrath]

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