The Book of Kells

The Book of Kells - The Book of Kells: A Celtic Masterpiece...

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In a time when the British Isles were bombarded by raids from the ferocious Vikings of the Scandinavian Peninsula, many works great works of art were destroyed. Often, beautiful works were buried underground for safety. However, many were never uncovered. One amazing work that managed to survive through these tumultuous times was The Book of Kells. This sacred book has a rich history in Ireland, which does not begin with the Viking raids, but centuries earlier. In fourth century Ireland, Christianity was seen as a religion of the lower classes and slaves. The majority of the population, including the aristocracy, was pagans. It was not until the sixth century that Christianity became prevalent among the aristocracy. This rise of Christianity in Ireland is partly due to one of the patron saints of Ireland, Colum Cille, who later became St. Columba of the Catholic Church. Colum Cille was born in the year 521, and was destined to be the heir to the throne of Ireland, for he was blood related to the leaders of the country. But, he realized that he did not want to be part of the political scene of Ireland. Instead, he wanted to devote his life to Jesus Christ. Therefore, he fled to the island of Iona off the western coast of England. On Iona, there were a few settlements of Irish, and Colum Cille established a monastery, which became known as the Columban order. His monastery would send missionaries to the rest of the Isles and to the continent, spreading the word of Christ to the pagan tribes. It is mostly due to the missionary work of Colum Cille's monastery that Christianity became so prevalent in the British Isles. But, in the ninth century, the island of Iona came under the attacks of the violent Norsemen, and the monastery was abandoned. Many of the monks were killed and the settlements plundered. The remaining monks fled back to the mainland and established a monastery at Kells, in the County of Meath, which eventually inherited the prestige that Iona had as the center of the Columban order. It was here that they sought refuge from the Vikings threats. Finally, in 878, the abbot of Iona, who was always referred to as "the successor of Colum Cille", went back to the monastery on Iona to retrieve the shrine and other valuable items that remained there. Some think that the book of Kells was one of these "precious objects of Colum Cille" that were brought back to Kells. Over the next 120 years, Kells fell under the attacks of the Vikings. The church of the Kells was destroyed and rebuilt multiple times over this period. How any of the great works that were retrieved from Iona survived these sackings is still unknown. The first mention of The Book Of Kells in history was in the monastery records
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This note was uploaded on 01/09/2011 for the course EDS 103 taught by Professor White during the Spring '10 term at E. Kentucky.

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The Book of Kells - The Book of Kells: A Celtic Masterpiece...

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