Lifelong CatechesisForming Catholic identity across generations
The sound of Alleluias fills the 50 days of Easter Sunday to Pentecost as we give thanks for the gift of our salvation. The Easter Triduum recalls the passion and resurrection of Christ in the sacred journey from Holy Thursday to Easter Vigil. "Dying he destroyed our death. Rising he restored our life."
Brendan, Abbot, c. 484-577
Brendan is a very popular Irish saint about whom little is known outside of legend. He was probably born near Tralee in Kerry, Ireland. When he was six, he was sent to a monastic school in Tuam for his education. He was ordained in 512 by Bishop St. Erc.
Brendan founded many monasteries in Ireland. The most famous of these, Clonfort, was a center of missionary activity for many centuries. Some three thousand monks lived, worked, studied, and prayed there under his direction.
Brendan made many missionary journeys by small sailing boat (a curragh) around Ireland and to England, Scotland and Wales, but his most famous journey, lasting from five to seven years, was to the Land of Promise. His epic manuscript on this adventure, Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis, was translated into many languages and was a best seller in Europe in the Middle Ages.
In this saga, Brendan described what may have been, in the middle of the 6th Century, a voyage to North America. While many people doubted this over the centuries, some modern scholars believe that Brendan was actually the first European to visit North America. In the 1970s, Tim Severin, an expert on exploration, followed the directions in Navigatio and sailed a hide covered curragh from Ireland to Newfoundland. His observations, documented in his book, The Brendan Voyage, (McGraw-Hill 1978) demonstrated the accuracy of Brendan’s directions and the descriptions of the places he wrote about.
St. Brendan is a patron of sailors. The Irish celebrate his feast on May 16.
Brendan’s message today: Brendan is one of those saints who, while fully dedicated to God, were also devoted to advancing the state of human knowledge. We often think that living a life for God, means shunning the ways of the world. Brendan proved otherwise by his love of exploration and ability to communicate with others through the tales of his adventures.