An Orthodox retreat on Iona



St Columba's Bay (Bay of the Coracle)
     An ancient Gaelic prophecy attributed to
     St.  Columba:

    An I mo chridhe, I mo graidh,
    An ait guth manaich bidh geum ba
    Ach mun tig an saoghal gu crich
    Bithidh I mar a bha.

    Iona of my heart, Iona of my love,
    Instead of monks voices shall be
    the lowing of cattle;
    But ere the world shall come
    to an end,
    Iona shall be as it was.

  "The holy man called his servant Diormit to him and spake thus: “In the Sacred Writings this day is called Sabbath, which being interpreted is Rest. And truly to me this day is a Sabbath, because to me it is the last day of life, in which, after the afflictions of my labours, I take my rest, and on the coming Lord’s Day night, shall go the way of my fathers. For already Christ invites me, and so it is revealed to me by Him.”

      "Returning to his dwelling, he sat all night on his bed, where for straw he was wont to have the bare floor, for a pillow a stone, which even to this day remains beside his sepulchre, as it were the inscription on his monument. So then, sitting there he commended his last words to his children, saying: 'Among yourselves have always mutual and unfeigned charity with peace; but the Lord, the Comforter of the good, will be your aid, and I, abiding with Him, will intercede for you, that the good things of time and eternity may arise to you.'”

St. Cumein’s Life of Columba, (Lives of Scottish Saints, trans. W.M. Metcalfe, D.D.)

St.  Columba  dwelt  on  Iona  for  about  34  years,  from  563  until  his  death  in  597.      His  journey   through  the  Great  Glen  in  564  to  visit  Pictish  King  Brude  at  Inverness  obtained  Brude’s  goodwill  to  preach  the  Gospel  throughout  mainland  Scotland.    

Incidentally,  Columba’s  is  the  first  recorded  sighting  of  the  Loch  Ness  monster!
Columba’s  consecration  of  the  king  of  Dalriada  set  a  precedent  that  lasts  till  today;  
the monarch of Great Britain being invariably crowned by the senior English cleric, the Archbishop of

Iona  continued  as  the  centre  of  Scottish  Celtic  Christianity  for  several  centuries,  until  the  constant  raids  of  the  Vikings  and  the  martyrdom  of  many  monks  made  it  all  but  untenable  as  a  sanctuary  of  peace.     Celtic  practices  were  finally  suppressed  in  the  eleventh  century,  thus  effectively  ending  Iona’s  Celtic  Orthodoxy.


In 1997 an Iona Pilgrimage, led by Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia to commemorate St. Columba’s 1400th anniversary, warmly welcomed the suggestion that the time had come to restore some kind of Orthodox presence to Iona. Our inspiration was the prophecy above said to be by St. Columba.


This group was set up in 1997 with three aims:

  1. Prayer: to pray each day that God’s will may be done on Iona:
    Your Kingdom come on earth - on Iona - as in heaven.
  2. To sponsor regular Pilgrimages to Iona; annually if possible.
  3. To raise funds to provide eventually a small Hermitage on Iona.