Sunday, 4 April 2010


To the Scots, through St Columba, who, about 563,
settled in Iona, and converted the Picts as far north
as Inverness, we owe the introduction of Christianity,
for though the Roman Church of St Ninian (397), at
Whithern in Galloway, left embers of the faith not
extinct near Glasgow, St Kentigern's country, till
Columba's time, the rites of Christian Scotland
were partly of the Celtic Irish type, even after St
Wilfrid's victory at the Synod of Whitby (664).

St Columba himself was of the royal line in Ulster,
was learned, as learning was then reckoned, and,
if he had previously been turbulent, he now desired
to spread the Gospel.  With twelve companions he
settled in Iona, established his cloister of cells, and
journeyed to Inverness, the capital of Pictland.
Here his miracles overcame the magic of the King's
druids; and his Majesty, Brude, came into the fold, his
people following him.  Columba was no less of a
diplomatist than of an evangelist.  In a crystal he saw
revealed the name of the rightful king of the Dalriad
Scots in Argyll--namely, Aidan--and in 575, at
Drumceat in North Ireland, he procured the
recognition of Aidan, and brought the King of the Picts
also to confess Aidan's independent royalty.

In the 'Life of Columba,' by Adamnan, we get a clear
and complete view of everyday existence in the Highlands
during that age.  We are among the red deer, and the
salmon, and the cattle in the hills, among the second-
sighted men, too, of whom Columba was far the foremost.
We see the saint's inkpot upset by a clumsy but enthusiastic
convert; we even make acquaintance with the old white
pony of the monastery, who mourned when St Columba
was dying; while among secular men we observe the
differences in rank, measured by degrees of wealth in
cattle.  Many centuries elapse before, in Froissart,
we find a picture of Scotland so distinct as that
painted by Adamnan.

more to follow.......

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