St. Brendan (mac Findlug) the Navigator,
Abbot of Clonfert and one of the Twelve
Apostles of Ireland
St. Brendan the Navigator,
whose voyages excited the imaginations of mediæval
readers and auditors, was born c. 486, probably near
Tralee, and he seems to have been dedicated to the church
from the beginning of his life. St. Ita raised him, and
Sts. Jarlath of Tuam and Erc of Kerry educated him. Active
in western Ireland, Brendan founded several monasteries,
the most famous of which is Clonfert, which was for centuries
a missionary center. He is said to have visited St. Columba
at Hinba (Argyll) and to have undertaken with sixty monks
a voyage in search of the Isles of the Blessed. The monks
kept monastic rule aboard their ships and met with many
adventures and supernatural creatures in their travels.
Brendan died c. 575 at Amaghdown, where he was visiting
his sister, Briga.
St. Brendan is thought by some to have sailed as far as
The voyages are described (but differently)
in his vita and in the Navigatio Sancti
Brendani Abbatis, a text of uncertain but
pre-Schism date; the latter was a best-seller
(in increasingly modified form) throughout the
Middle Ages and read by Columbus.
Karen Rae Keck and Norman Hugh Redington
- The Navigatio and related works:
The Occitan Brendan:
A post-Schism Western edition of the Navigatio,
with translation by Robert Sanderson, 1997.
- Modern attempts to retrace Brendan's voyage:
Return to St Pachomius Library.