St Columba, Scotland's First Minister

Though Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, the influence of St Columba on Scottish Christianity remains profound. Ian Bradley examines the Celtic evangelist’s legacy 1,450 years after his arrival on the Hebridean island of Iona.

A postcard of Iona Abbey, late 19th century. Library of CongressColumba has consistently been Scotland’s most popular saint. Immortalised in folklore through Gaelic prayers and poems, he effectively became the emerging nation’s patron saint before being trumped by Andrew at the end of the 13th century. His post-Reformation appeal has extended across all Christian denominations, with even the Free Church of Scotland, the ‘Wee Frees’, embracing him for his austere, muscular Christianity.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.