St Brendan, Sailor of God

St Brendan (456 -578 AD) St Brendan (456 -578 AD)

saint brendan 200pxFeastday: May 16th
Patron: mariners, sailors, travellers
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Brendan, one of the best loved of the legendary saints of Ireland, is thought to have been born in Kerry in 438 AD or thereabouts.  As an infant he was taken to a monastery in Limerick to be cared for by St Ita.  During studies prior to ordination by Bishop Erc he met a onk named Barrind who had voyaged to The Land of Promise of The Saints.

To fullfil the dream fostered by Barrind, Brendan eventually sailed west from Kerry in a light boat of tanned ox hides, accompanied by 17 other monks.

There adventures are described in a book called the Navigatio.  They were blown north to the Faroes and then west to the isaland of Crystal, believed to be large icebergs.  They came upon an island which appeared to be on fire, probably the volcanic region of southern Iceland.  At one point they stop on a small island, celebrate easter mass, light a fire - and then learn that the island is an enormous whale!

At last they arrived at the Land of Promise of the Saints and explored it for forty days.  Finally, after seven years, they returned to Ireland.  Brendan went on many more voyages before dying at the age of 93.

What emerges from the legends and biblical overtones of these ancient writings is the figure of a leader whom people trusted and admired, an explorer who put his trust fearlessly in God.  Brendan the Navigotor is well chosen as a patron to lead a parish on it's journey through the new millenium, just as he led so many Irish people on the journeys by which they bought the Catholic faith to the new world.

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