Glencolumcille, or in the Gaelic, has been a religious site for over 5,000 years. It was one of earliest Christian sites in Europe, dating to the sixth century. The landscape around the village is dotted with ancient sites from the neolithic period, but the Christians turned the landscape into a stations of the cross, based on all the holy sites, pagan and Christian of the area.
This route is 3.5 miles in length, done barefoot starting after midnight on June 9th. Station two is like many of them, a carved stone slab, dating to about 700 AD. It’s thought that the finger shape might mean it was once the spot where the finger of St. Colm Cille, who left here to start the community on Iona, was kept. There’s an altar below the stone. The proper way to approach this station of the cross is to circle about the stone three times, then kneel before the carved cross and say five Our Fathers, five Hail Marys, five Glorias, and the Creed.
It was holy here before the Christians, St. Colm Cille blessed each of these stations, and today it’s hard to say what was originally a pagan stone, and what stones the Christians erected. And it really doesn’t matter, because in Glencolumcille the old religion and the new met peacefully and absorbed each other. What St. Colm Cille did here affected him greatly and when he moved on to Iona, he changed Christianity and in some ways, the world.
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