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  • “On the island of Iona, one finds the rainbow which provides bridges to Heaven”. So goes the old Scottish saying, and you’ve got to hand it to them, the Scots know how to paint a picture. Any visitor here would agree that there is something heavenly about the Western Scottish island of Iona.

    For one thing, it takes a special kind of traveller to make the journey here. You must take two ferries from the mainland to reach this teeny islet, just 1.5 by 3 miles wide and inhabited by just 177 brave Scots. It’s a haven of peace and tranquility, frequented by exotic Atlantic birdlife such as sea eagles and sandpipers, and sea life such as dolphins, porpoises and seals.

    Iona is probably best known for its importance in the Christian faith. Iona Abbey is the focal point of the island and one of the most important religious centres in Western Europe. Visitors are encouraged to join in the daily worship at the 13th Century Abbey, and many thousands of pilgrims make the trip each year to bask in Iona’s spiritual atmosphere.

    It all began with the arrival of Christian Saint Columba from Ireland in AD563, and with him, the construction of the island’s first church, which was constructed from clay and wood. Nearly 800 years later, the tiny island had become a place of worship for the Scottish and Irish people, and the Abbey was established with all the grandeur deserving of a great religious structure.

    The ruins of the Iona nunnery are also an area to explore and reflect on one’s place in the world. For over three hundred years the ancient nunnery has been falling into ruin, and today is a wonderfully atmospheric introduction to the most spiritual island in the country. And of course it’s also the ideal place to try to snap a picture of the fabled rainbow which promises to connect Heaven and Earth.

    View of Iona Abbey across the water, Scotland
May 20th 2016