Pilgrimage to Mull & Iona (should we?)

The idea of an Orthodox pilgrimage to Mull, Iona and the neighbouring isles has been suggested to me in practically every parish I visited this past year. I have been initially (and still remain) rather afraid to try organising any pilgrimage before we have built our small monastic house, but I confess I’m thinking more and more about it. It all changed after I was on the pilgrimage led by the Orthodox Friends of Iona this August (I should take this opportunity to thank His Eminence Metropolitan Kallistos and Bruce Clark for inviting me to join them, and for their kindness and generosity towards me and our monastery).

Puffins, Isle of Lunga
Puffins, Isle of Lunga

There are so many beautiful places to see in the Hebrides, such powerful spiritual landscapes, such strong presence of the Saints, it would be a pity not to at least give the idea some serious thought. I’ve also been fortunate enough to see how the OFI organize their pilgrimages, and I’ve done my best to learn from their experience as much as possible. Perhaps it would be a good idea to start with a ‘trial’ pilgrimage next summer, for just a small group of people who are friendly and kind (that is, people who would not ask for my head if it all turns our badly).

Although, how could it turn our badly? The isles are so visibly blessed, the Saints are so overwhelmingly present, all we’d need to do is let ourselves melt in their grace. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting photos and notes I’ve taken during the OFI pilgrimage in August, as a taste of what awaits one in the isles; this week, I attach a few photos from the Isle of Lunga, the largest of the Treshnish Isles.

I’ll think about it very carefully; please let me know (at [email protected] or in the comments section below) what you think of this idea and whether you would be interested to join me.

May it be God’s will.

Wild Flowers on Lunga
Wild Flowers on Lunga
View of the ocean, Lunga
View of the ocean, Lunga
Lunga, Treshnish Isles
Lunga, Treshnish Isles
Puffins on Lunga
(More) Puffins on Lunga

20 responses

  • I would love to go. St. Columba himself prophesied that the Lord would not return/the world would not end, until “Iona shall be as it was.” (That monks must return there with the Liturgy.) I pray for your pilgrimage plans. I only wish I could go also. When you go, please remember me in your prayers. +++

    • In all honesty, I didn’t know about St Columba’s prophesy when the history of this monastery started, back in 2010. In some strange way, I feel like we’re contributing to the end of the world 🙂 But then, isn’t the end of the world really its return in God’s loving arms? If so, why worry? And yes, let’s pray for each other.

  • Father, these pilgrimages may happen whether you plan them or not. I am still going to be visiting the isle and praying, simply because I cannot be that close and NOT go to Mull. Please pray for my pilgrimage this week.

    • I know, dear Jeff, I know; that is why I’m thinking it would be better to try and organise them, is they are to take place anyway. I have been thinking and praying for you all this time – please let me know how it all went. I am so happy at the thought that you’ve been home 🙂 but I’m also worried. God bless us all; please send me an email when you have some time.

  • I can’t help thinking about this. What a wonderful idea you have Father….Would it not be wonderful to invite these monks to come to Iona and sing at the abbey, perhaps make an Orthodox album of liturgical music? As the teenagers like to say in America, “Valaam Monks Rock!” 🙂
    Judges 5: “Far from the noise of the archers, among the watering places,
    There they shall recount the righteous acts of the Lord,
    The righteous acts for His villagers in Israel;
    Then the people of the Lord shall go down to the gates.”

    Here are the monks of Valaam singing praises to our beloved Theotokos:


    • Yes, it would be great. I am actually hoping that a group of lovely and very talented girls from London (and not only) will record a selection of traditional Scottish songs for the monastery. When I get some time, I shall write to them to push things further; I would love to have this done by Christmas, if possible.

    • Father, oh please let me know when you do this! Perhaps I could get one of my sons to come along. We are of Celtic background (Irish, actually) and seeing this area would be a blessing.

      • Dear Presbytera, I shall definitely let you know. I’ll look into it as soon as I return to Britain; by the end of January, I should know if we can do it this summer or if we need to postpone until 2016. I didn’t know you had Irish ancestors! Glory be to God. That explains why we get along so well 🙂

      • Father –

        Yes – my mother is a Conway, and my father’s mother was a Delaney. Father’s grandmother was a Ryan, plus there are also Cummerfords.

        Well, if not 2015 then certainly 2016. That would give more time to plan and save, of course, plus one of our sons is to be married on 7 June 2015. Just let me know and then I could tell others, if you wished. And, as for me, it does not have to be in the high tourist season. So exciting to see where there will be Orthodoxy once again!!

  • Dear Father. Before I read your post about the pilgrimage, I had the thought that I would like to go to Mull. Please count me in.

    • That would be so great, dear Amal! I would be so happy to welcome you on Mull, the way you’ve welcomed me when I was on the East Coast. May God hear you.

    • All right. You’re on the list 🙂 You’ve been on the list (the one in my head) even before you’ve written this comment. A few other people are on the same mental list, too – I suppose I should write them an email to let them know!

  • I am very excited to hear about the Orthodox Monastery of All Celtic Saints. We thank Saint Brendan and Saint Brigid for guiding us to the Orthodox Church after a 6 week trip to Ireland. If the Lord were to provide us with the resources, we would be very interested in a pilgrimage to Mull and Iona.

    • May God bless you! I find it amazing to see how ‘active’ the Celtic Saints are in their missionary work. Especially in the US, it seems like very little things have done as much as Celtic Christianity to introduce people to the Orthodox Church. Thank you for writing; please keep me and the monastery in your prayers.

  • I would love to go to Mull and Iona! I have only been to Ireland, which was beautiful. My husband and I both have Celtic heritage and named our son, Declan. I was very happy to hear about your monastery!

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