Favorite Monks: Brendan the Navigator
Brendan the Navigator
(St. Brendan, Saint Brendan of Clonfert)
Tell others about Jesus like the early Irish Celtic monks did:
Though not all Christians are called to the ministry of an Evangelist, we are all called by God to share our faith (witness) with those who are not Christians. Some Bible verses that you will find helpful for doing this, and that you may want to commit to memory are found on other pages on our web site (see: Memory Verses; 2nd Set: Salvation!, Plan of Salvation, and Statement of Faith). _________________
Legends of Ireland: St. Patrick / Brendan the Navigator _________________
By Monk Preston
"They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep."
A Traveler, A Founder of Monasteries
Brendan was born near Tralee, County Kerry. At the age of one year he was given into the care of Saint Ita at Killeedy (one of the most famous female monastics in the history of Ireland). At age six he began training under Bishop Erc. After a few years he was allowed to fulfill his desire to travel and study under many different holy men.
At an early age Brendan began attracting disciples and founding monasteries. Celtic monasteries were places of public worship (and also of Christian schools and education). Today we would call this "church-planting." Clonfert is the most famous of Brendan's monasteries (founded 560 A.D.). At its peak it is said to have been home to 3,000 monks. It lasted as a school all the way up until the 1600's.
The First Voyage
Brendan's first voyage took him to the Arran Islands, where he founded a monastery, and to many other islands which he only visited, including Hynba Island off Scotland, where he is said to have met Columcille (Columba). On this voyage he also traveled to Wales, and finally to Brittany, on the northern coast of France.
It is Brendan's second voyage, however, for which he is most well known. Many places in Ireland are named after Brendan. The most famous would be the 3,200 ft. Mount Brandon in County Kerry on Ireland's west coast. On its summit are the ruins of stone bee-hive shaped huts and a chapel, from which one can sometimes see as far as one-hundred miles into the distance. Here Brendan is said to have had a vision of a far-off island.
The Second Voyage
He and the monks that went with him are said to have fasted for forty days and then left on a seven-year sea journey.
It is felt that they went to Iceland and Greenland (when the Norwegian Viking known as Eric the Red "discovered" Iceland, he found Irish monks already living there). Some think that Brendan may even have sailed to America. ______________________________
Did Brendan Discover America?
Brendan claimed to have discovered a new island far to the west. It was placed on many of the maps made from that time onward, and may have been one of the influences on Columbus (Christopher Columbus; not to be confused, as some have done, with either Columba or Columbanus!).
National Geographic Magazine covered the story of adventurer Tim Severin, who in 1975 sailed a wood and leather traditional Irish coracle across the Atlantic, to show that Brendan could in fact have done it.
The voyages of Brendan are recorded by England's first historian, the Venerable Bede.
A Floating Mountain of "Glass"
In the ninth century, an Irish monk wrote the book: Navigatio Sancti Brendani (Voyage of St. Brendan). This became one of the most popular books throughout the entire Middle Ages, and made Brendan famous as a voyager. It is written as an allegory, so it is difficult to identify specific places in it (this film gives reasons to identify Scotland, Iceland, and North America). This film contains many interesting details. For instance, Brendan is said to have come upon a "mountain of glass" floating in the ocean. This sounds fanciful, until one thinks that possibly an iceberg is what's being referred to.
Brendan died in Annaghdown in Ireland in 578 A.D. ____________________________
Copyright © 2002 S.G.P. All rights reserved.