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Melrose Abbey                        

Old Melrose Abby was first founded by St. Aedan/Aidan near the town that was then known as Fordel. Born in 630 CE, Aedan was an Irish missionary from the St. Columba's monastery on the island of Iona. Aedan founded other churches and monasteries, also, and enjoyed the support of King Oswald of Northumbria.  Old Melrose was destroyed by the Scots in the ninth century. The second Melrose was built a few miles from the original site, its new founder King David I of Scotland.  The work started in 1136 CE, and when it was complete, the abbey was dedicated to the Virgin Mary.  more>>             

Melrose Abbey
              Melrose Abbey.  George Grantham Bain Collection at the Library of Congress
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                Melrose Abbey.  George Grantham Bain Collection at the Library of Congress

Download  249 KB JPEG of the image.

Order:  The first founding was Benedictine.  The second founding was Cistercian.

Location:  On the River Tweed, near the site of present day Melrose, Scotland.  

Founded:  First by St. Aedan/Aidan an Irish missionary from the St. Columba's monastery on the island of Iona.  Then rebuilt by new founder King David I of Scotland in 1136 CE.   

Short History:   Poor Melrose Abbey was burnt, first by the Scots, and last by Henry VIII during the Dissolution.  Edward II and Richard II of England also both burned the abbey. Between burnings, Melrose flourished.  One of the missional churches of Iona, it was first supported by King Oswald of Northumbria.  It was again a missional church under King David I, whose reformed Cistercian monks proved a popular order, and important center of education and commerce, to the local people.  Robert the Bruce was also an important patron, rebuilding and improving the abbey in 1326.  Melrose was noted for the piety of its monks, its agricultural advances, and its wool.  The monks rebelled against the order of Dissolution, and so the monks were forcibly disbursed and the monastery burned in1544. Only eleven Melrose clerics (the least treasonous?) received the promised pension after the reformation.

Of Interest:  A number of miracles are attributed by monks and saints of the abbey.  St. Cuthbert saw visions of angels and St. Aedan while tending the Melrose sheep.  Also, the Abbot Waltheof was said to have fed four thousand starving people for three months during the famine in 1148.

Famous for:  Scottish King Robert the Bruce's heart is said to have been brought back from the Crusades and buried under the abbey floor.  Melrose Abbey is also associated with Sir Walter Scott, who lived in Abbotsford, near Melrose, and featured the abbey in his poem, Melrose by Moonlight.

Melrose Abbey Links:

  • Melrose Abbey and Scottish History through the BBC Scottish History Pages. 
  • Explore Melrose Abbey through Undiscovered Scotland's online guide.
  • New Advent's Catholic Encyclopedia entry for Melrose Abbey.
  • Learn more about Robert the Bruce through BBC's Historical Figures Pages

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