Lacrimæ Sancti Columbæ

My collection of Iona greenstone.
My collection of polished Iona greenstone. The smaller examples are known as St. Columba’s Tears.

A small geological outcrop at the south end of the isle of Iona is the source of a rare stone known since the time of St. Colum Cille and treasured for centuries. Iona greenstone (also called Iona marble, nephrite, jade, and a host of other more-or-less mineralogically correct names) may be found on the beach at Port a Churaich or St. Columba’s Bay. The green and white stone is reputed to be a charm against shipwreck, fire, and miscarriage, and local children collected and sold specimens to the tourists flocking to the island since the eighteenth century. Smaller, sea-polished pebbles have long been referred to as St. Columba’s Tears. During the Middle Ages, a large slab of the material was carved for an altar in Iona Abbey. Iona marble was also briefly quarried nearby by the failed Argyll Quarry Company in the nineteenth century. Iona greenstone was particularly prized for use in jewellery during the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

Published by Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organised the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Personal queries should be directed to me at eccentricbliss dot com.

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