While in Scotland last April, we visited three of its historical holy sites. Saint Giles Cathedral, Iona Abbey, and Rosslyn Chapel. Saint Giles is one of the most magnificent churches I’ve ever visited. As I watched on the tele, the vigil of Queen Elizabeth’s casket at Saint Giles, I found myself transported back into that glorious sacred space. For more information on all three of these sites, visit the Historic Scotland website.
Saint Giles Cathedral, the High Kirk of Scotland (Presbyterian) in Edinburgh. Founded in 1124 by Kind David I, it was Catholic until the Protestant Reformation in 1560. Protestant reform leader, John Knox, preached at Saint Giles. Saint Giles is known as the patron saint of beggars, the disabled, depression, cancer and madness. He is commonly depicted with a deer or an arrow. Sept 1 is Saint Giles Feast Day.
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Iona Abbey, Isle of Iona, Scotland. (Ecumenical Christian) Founded in 563 by Saint Columba of Ireland, it is said that he brought Christianity to Scotland, and that the Book of Kells was written here. Construction of the Benedictine Abbey was started in the early 1200s and probably completed around the 1450. All but two of the cloister walkway columns have been rebuilt and carved by a sculptor over 30 years from 1967-1997. The sculpture in the cloister center garden is The Descent of the Spirit, by Lithuanian Jewish artist, Jacques Lipchitz. Columba is the Patron Saint of Derry. June 9 is Saint Columba’s Feast Day.
Rosslyn Chapel, Rosslyn, Scotland just south of Edinburgh. (Episcopalian) William St Claire, 3rd and last Prince of Orkney began building it in 1446. It features a stone block ceiling with a keystone, that if removed the whole thing would tumble down. There are many intricate and unique carvings throughout the interior and exterior, highlighting the talents of the stone masons if its time. The soft sandstone, however, doesn’t weather well, and it required a metal cap to save the roof damaged by moisture. Rosslyn Chapel was the site of the last scene in the movie, The DaVinci Code, bringing it to modern prominence and helping to raise money for repair and a visitors center.