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St. Brendan (mac Findlug) the Navigator, Abbot of Clonfert and one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland

V/VI Centuries
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 America. 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

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