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Iona (eye-OH-nuh)

An island of western Scotland

Common clues: Hebrides island; Macbeth's buriel place; Scottish island or N.Y. college

Crossword puzzle frequency: 4 times a year

Frequency in English language: 25340 / 86800

News: Our hearts are in the islands

Iona, population 175, is a small island, 1 mile wide (1.6 km) and 3.5 miles (5.6 km) long, of the Inner Hebrides, Scotland. Its Gaelic name is I Chaluim Cille (Saint Columba's Island), or sometimes just Ì or Idhe. It is approximately one mile (1,600 m) from the coast of Mull.

In 563 Saint Columba, exiled from his native Ireland, founded a monastery here with 12 companions. From here they set about the conversion of pagan Scotland and much of northern England to Christianity. Iona's fame as a place of learning and Christian mission spread throughout Europe and it became a major site of pilgrimage. Iona became a holy island where several kings of Scotland, Ireland and Norway came to be buried.

Iona Abbey, now an ecumenical church, is of particular historical and religious interest to pilgrims and visitors alike. It is the most elaborate and best-preserved ecclesiastical building surviving from the Middle Ages in the Western Isles of Scotland. In front of the Abbey stands the 9th century St Martin's Cross, one of the best-preserved Celtic crosses in the British Isles, and a replica of the 8th century St John's Cross (original fragments in the Abbey museum).



This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Iona".