A small island off the western coast of Scotland was of vital importance to the earliest years of the Christianization of England and Northern Europe. An Irish monk named Columba came to Iona in the 6th century to spread the Christian faith. Right up to the present day, many pilgrims have followed and continue to follow in Columba's footsteps. The journey to Iona is a long one. Since there is no direct connection by boat from the mainland, one must travel via the island of Mull. As Iona comes into view, one can also see the outline of the old abbey, which is where the present community of Iona is housed. Hundreds of people stay at the abbey during their visit, and it is an ever-changing population, an ecumenical community. Most of the guests stay here for a week, to study, to talk and to pray and meditate amidst the peace and quiet of the island.