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    You are here : Home/ Dublin History

    St COLUMBA & THE BOOK of KELLS

    The Book of Kells was donated to Trinity College Dublin in 1661. It is one of the most important religious works of the Christian faith in the world. It is now on display in the Old Library of Trinity College. This is the story of St Columba ...

    It is widely believed that the Book of Kells was created by Columban monks living in the monastery established by St Columba on the Scottish Island of Iona. Saint Columba (521 – 597) was an Irish monk who brought Christianity to Scotland.

    He was born in County Donegal, with Royal blood in his veins, being descended from Nial , an Irish High King of the 400s AD. Columba studied at Clonard monastery , an important centre for early Christianity in Ireland .

    Some time after his ordination a dispute arose with St Finnian of Moville over a manuscript that Columba had copied. In those days, the monasteries were both the seats of learning & religious fiefdoms. There were strongly held philosophical differences amongst the monks on the use of the manuscripts which represented 'power' and 'control'. These manuscripts or books (The Book of Kells is the most famous example) were incredibly rare & very expensive to produce.One section of the monks wanted them to be copied & disseminated throughout the known world. Others violently disagreed.

    Such was magnitude of the dispute that a battle (!) ensured in which many people were killed. Columba was accused of causing this tragedy & threatened with excommunication, he accepted exile & travelled across the Irish Sea settling on the Scottish west coast island of Iona .

    There he established a monastery that became the leading centre of Christianity. Columba expiated his guilt over the death of so many people by taking Christianity to Scotland , England & throughout Europe. On Iona, his Columban monks created many manuscripts including the one now called ‘The Book of Kells '. The Book of Kells is also called the Book of Columba .

    The Book of Kells & other Religious Books were vitally important elements in the spreading of Christianity…they were literally the ‘Words of God'. The effect of thesebeautiful illuminated manuscripts on people who had never even seen a Book was powerful indeed.

    Columban monks with their beautiful manuscripts travelled extensively throughout Europe spreading the new religion. Such was the success of his monastery at Iona that he became known as Columba of Iona.

    Visit Iona when you have a spare few days…it is a most profound experience.


     

     

     

     

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