Iona (Īōnˈə) [key] [Irish Ioua = island] or Icolmkill [Irish, = island of Columba of the church], island (1985 est. pop. 267), 3.5 mi (5.6 km) long and 1.5 mi (2.4 km) wide, Argyll and Bute, NW Scotland, one of the Inner Hebrides. Separated from the island Mull by the Sound of Iona, it is hilly, with shell beaches. Farming, livestock grazing, and fishing are carried on, but tourism is the main industry. The island is famous as the early center of Celtic Christianity. St. Columba (see Columba, Saint.), with his companions, landed there from Ireland in 563. They founded a monastery, which was burned by the Danes in the 8th or 9th cent. Iona was a bishopric from 838 to 1098. In 1203 a Benedictine monastery, of which there are remains, was established. The cathedral, formerly the Church of St. Mary, dates from the early 13th cent. The cemetery of St. Oran's Church contains the graves of many monarchs of Scotland, Ireland, Norway, and France. A group called the Iona Community (est. 1938), dedicated to reviving the spirit of Celtic Christianity, has restored many ancient buildings.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.