Myths and Legends
St. Oran was a druid living on the Island of Iona in Scotland's Inner Hebrides. He became a follower of St. Columba, who brought Christianity to Iona (and mainland Europe) from Ireland in 563 AD. When St. Columba had repeated problems building the original Iona Abbey, citing interferences from the Devil, St. Oran offered himself as a human sacrifice and was buried alive. After three days and nights Columba became curious to know how his follower had fared and ordered him dug up. The monks excavate the spot where Oran had been sacrificed, finally uncovering his face. Oran’s eyes pop open, and staring right at Columba he declares, “There is no great wonder in death, nor is Hell or Heaven what it has been described".2 "In fact, the way you think it is is not the way it is at all.” Horrified, the saint had Oran buried again at all haste, crying “Uir! Uir! air beul Odhrain” or “Earth, earth on Oran’s mouth!” (The saying “chaidh uir air suil Odhrain” or “Earth went over Oran’s eye” is still widely heard in the Highlands and Hebrides.2 The building of the abbey went ahead, untroubled, and St. Oran's chapel marks the spot where the saint was buried.