St Columba’s Church Building

St Columba’s Church Today

The Stained Glass Window

Leadline Studios – Glass window designers

The Etched Doors


In Christianity feathers represented virtues. In fact, an image of three feathers were made into signet rings – each feather symbolizing Charity, hope, and faith. These rings were worn as a symbol of a virtuous soul – they were also used as wax seals. The ring would be dipped in warm wax then pressed against documents to seal the closure. The recipient would know the documents came from a virtuous man by the indication of the three-feather symbol in the wax. White feathers in dreams indicate innocence or a fresh start in a spiritual sense.

A quick summary on symbol meaning of feathers:Truth,Speed, Lightness ,Flight, Ascension. Columba eventually added a library to house all their books and a ‘scriptorium’ to do their writings. Writing was very important to Columba and he taught all his monks to write. They fashioned books from small blocks of wood covered with beeswax and made paper from animal skins. They wrote with bird’s feathers, the ink made from dye taken from plants.

The guardian angel feather symbolizes God’s care for his people through the presence of angels. It is written in Psalm 91:11 “…For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

Scallop shell: the sea shell, especially the scallop shell, is the symbol of Baptism, and is found frequently on Baptismal fonts. The dish used by priests to pour water over the heads of catechumens in Baptism is often scallop-shaped. The scallop, too, is a symbol for the Apostle James the Greater.

The shell alone may also be used as a symbol for pilgrimage, and may be used as an emblem for saints known for their travels (such as St. James) or whose shrines have become destinations for pilgrims.

Oak Tree: The oak considered as the tree from which the cross was made, it became a symbol of Christ. The Oak also symbolizes strength and ,renewal of life, and therefore, the Resurrection.

Anita Pate – Glass Artist





St Hilda

One legends says birds, especially sea birds would not fly over the Abbey for fear of soiling it when St Hilda was there and it was also claimed that those that flew past it always dipped their wings in flight “thus to do lowly obeisance to its hallowed precincts”. “They told how sea-fowls pinions fail As over Whitby’s towers they sail and sinking down, with fluttering faint, they do homage to the saint”.

St Hilda changed snakes into stones the snakes were really ammonites the terrified snakes fled before her .Most of them threw themselves over the cliffs losing their heads in the process. All were turned to stone.

Hilda had built up such a thriving and well established community, that seven years later Whitby`s monastery and Hilda had been the chosen by King Oswy as the place for a meeting to take place with the Bishops, to discuss many Christian and church affairs. The well-documented first sitting of the “Synod” was about to take place in Whitby and Hilda`s monastery to St Peter. The sitting of the “Synod” still takes place annually, even today.

St Columba

He was given two names at his baptism: Crimthann, meaning wolf and Colum, which means dove. In 563 Columba left Ireland with twelve companions in a curaich, a frail, open, leather boat.:-‘They tilled the soil, fished, copied manuscripts and followed the routine of prayer …


‘ Because of his love of nature Columba refused to build the church facing east, as was the custom; he wanted to spare the lives of as many oak trees as he could.

‘There was no one like Calum Cille, no one, my dear. He was big and handsome and eloquent, haughty to the over-haughty and humble to the humble, kind to the weak and wounded.’

Curach, corach, curachan, coracle, little coracle. The coracle is a boat whose framework, called ‘crannaghail,’ is made of wicker, lath, or cane, and covered with skin, canvas, or rubber. Columba is supposed to have come to Scotland in a boat of this description. On landing in Iona, Columba, it is said, buried his boat above the beach, to remove the temptation of returning to Ireland. The place where the boat was buried is called ‘Port a Churaich,’ Port of the Coracle. There is a raised ridge, the shape of an up-turned boat, covered, like the surrounding machar, with short green grass. The ridge is called ‘An Curach,’ the coracle.

Symbols of Iona; a Menhir Cross; Beehive huts; a Coracle in which he crossed the Irish seas. Ringed cross known as “St Columba’s Pillow”



St Columba’s Church- our history

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