Movilla Abbey Church
Movilla Abbey Church began in 1980 when followers of Jesus from St.Mark’s Church of Ireland and Regent Street Methodist felt called to form a worshipping community in the then newly-developed area of Movilla. Inspired by the rich heritage of the area, they took the name of the ancient community “Movilla Abbey” and continue to be inspired by their example of prayer, worship and service.
Movilla Abbey (Irish: Mainistir Mhaigh Bhile “Monastery of the Plain of the Notable Tree”) in Newtownards, County Down, Northern Ireland, is believed to have been one of Ulster’s most important monasteries.
The Abbey of Movilla was founded in the sixth century by St. Finnian (d. 572) and flourished until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1542. The name Movilla is an Anglicized form of the Irish magh bile, which means “the plain of the ancient tree,” so called because on the site where the abbey was built, pagans had previously worshipped a sacred tree.
Movilla Abbey flourished in the seventh and eighth centuries, at which time it was one of the greatest schools in Ireland.One of its most famous students was St. Columba, a student of Finnian’s. Columba eventually went on his own way, but returned in the 550s when Finnian returned from Rome with a copy of the Latin Vulgate Bible, the only one in Ireland at the time. Columba’s efforts at transcribing a copy for himself led to a conflict, both legal and military, called the Battle of the Book, which is considered the first known copyright dispute.
In addition to being a center of learning, Movilla was known for its flourishing work in crafts, particularly bronze and glass.
Movilla began to decline after it was sacked by the Danes in 823 and was united with Bangor in the tenth century. However, it was revitalized in 1135 when St. Malachy of Armagh established a group of Augustinians in the abbey.
The abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1542. During the reign of Elizabeth I, Brian O’Neill, chief of the O’Neills of Clandeboye, burned Movilla, along with other abbeys in the Ards in his campaign to prevent the English from using Irish abbeys for their military garrisons.
Source: Wikipedia. (LINK: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Movilla_Abbey)