jeudi 16 mai 2013

Saint BRENDAN de CLONFERT, abbé et missionnaire

Saint Brendan

Abbé de Clonfert, en Irlande (✝ 583)

Il pilota ses nombreux disciples à travers les flots de ce monde, "vers la terre promise des saints." Il doit sa réputation à la légende qui l'aurait fait naviguer vers les îles Canaries et l'Amérique du Sud.

Moine irlandais, rendu célèbre par ses "navigations aux îles fortunées", quelque part entre les Canaries et le Groenland. Né en 484 à Clonfert, au sud-ouest de l'Irlande, il entre au monastère de Llancarvan, fondé par saint Cado dans le pays de Galles. La tradition rapporte qu'il débarqua avec des compagnons dans l'estuaire du Léguer et qu'il fonda un monastère à Ploulec'h; Lanvellec est sous son patronage. Deux paroisses, dans le Finistère, prétendent garder le souvenir de ce saint, Kerlouan* et Loc-Brévalaire, mais l'identification de Brendan avec Brévalaire est sujette à caution. A Loc-Brévalaire, le saint patron est représenté en évêque (ou en abbé?), un dragon à ses pieds (diocèse de Quimper et Léon)

* L'église Saint-Brévalaire fut nommée du nom du saint patron de Kerlouan: Brévalaire, moine navigateur irlandais. (ensemble paroissial La Côte des Légendes)

Saint Brendan est également saint patron du diocèse de Kerry en Irlande -

En Irlande, vers 577, saint Brendan, abbé de Clonfert et propagateur valeureux de la vie monastique, devenu le héros d’exploits fabuleux racontés dans la célèbre Navigation de saint Brendan.

Martyrologe romain


Saint Brendan de Clonfert nait dans le royaume du Munster en 484, et connaît une enfance très vite bercée par le christianisme. Il se rend dans le monastère de Llancarfan dans le Royaume de Gwent (Pays de Galles) pour y apprendre le latin, le grec, les mathématiques, la médecine et l’astronomie, et s’initie aux textes chrétiens.

Dès 515, Saint Brendan voyage beaucoup, et part pour une quête de 7 ans afin de rechercher le jardin d’Eden (comme le veut une tradition celte dictée par L’Immram, un ancien conte mythologique). Il n’hésite pas à naviguer, s’aventurant sur l’océan Atlantique sur un curragh, accompagnés d’autres moines. A la fin de sa quête, Brendan retourne en Irlande, et conte son périple en affirmant avoir trouvé une île assimilable au Paradis… Très vite, la nouvelle se propage et la légende se forme : Brendan est alors surnommé « Le Navigateur », et de nombreux pèlerins se rassemblent autour d’Aldfert, village où aurait démarré le périple du moine.

Mais Saint Brendan de Clonfert ne s’arrête pas là et reprend la mer, à la recherche de nouveaux territoires à découvrir… D’après le récit médiéval « Navigatio Sancti Brendani abbatis », le moine aurait effectué 2 voyages importants, l’un le menant aux îles Canaries, l’autre vers les Antilles. Il voyagera ensuite durant plus de 25 ans entre les îles Britanniques et la Bretagne. De nos jours, beaucoup de spécialistes semblent douter de ces voyages, considérant la plupart des récits vantant ses périples comme inexacts et incohérents.

C’est en 561 que Brendan retourne en Irlande, et décide de fonder le monastère de Clonfert dans la région de Galway. Il meurt ensuite entre 574 et 578 et fut canonisé par le Pape Zacharie en 1243, fixant sa fête au 16 mai.



BRENDAN (Bréanainn), saint, abbé et missionnaire irlandais que la tradition associe à des voyages à l’Ouest vers l’Amérique du Nord et peut-être même le Canada actuel, né vers 484, mort vers 578.

On croit qu’il naquit près de Tralee, dans le comté de Kerry, en Irlande, de parents chrétiens. Il fut ordonné prêtre à l’âge de 26 ans et, plus tard, il fonda le grand monastère de Clonfert, dans le comté de Galway, dont il fut abbé. Le mont Brandon, dans la péninsule de Dingle, porte son nom, et on pense que « l’île de Saint-Brendan » se trouvait à l’est de cette montagne.

Saint Brendan est censé avoir visité des lieux tels que les îles Féroé, l’Islande, l’île de Jan-Mayen, les Antilles, les Açores, les Canaries et même le Groenland et le continent américain. Bien que les Irlandais aient atteint l’Islande et y aient établi une communauté religieuse avant l’an 800 de notre ère, rien ne permet d’associer Brendan à cette aventure. Il n’existe pas non plus de preuve digne de foi qui indique que Brendan ou un de ses compatriotes ait jamais atteint le Groenland ou l’Amérique.

Une Vita Sancti Brendani apparut très tôt. Elle fut suivie plus tard de la Navigatio Sancti Brendani, dans laquelle des parties de la Vita avaient été incluses. Il y a controverse sur l’époque de la parution de la Navigatio (Selmer pense que le premier manuscrit fut rédigé vers la fin du xe ou au début du xie siècle). La Navigatio raconte le ou les voyages du saint dans sa recherche du paradisum terrestre (tir tairgirne) ou de la Terre promise des saints. Elle connut une diffusion considérable et fut traduite en plusieurs langues ; il en existe un grand nombre de manuscrits.

Il est bien plus raisonnable de soutenir que les renseignements relatifs à des mers et à des terres situées à l’ouest de l’Islande, que l’on peut dégager de certains passages de la Navigatio Sancti Brendani, proviennent de récits de voyages des Norvégiens dans l’Atlantique Nord (ou, dans les cas où il paraît être question de l’Islande, de moines irlandais qui avaient fui l’Islande à l’approche des Normands en 870) transmis par les nombreux Scandinaves qui se rendirent ou s’établirent en Irlande pendant les années 800–1200.

Un examen attentif des sagas islandaises pertinentes, la Saga d’Érik le Rouge (chap. XII), la Saga d’Eyrbyggja (chap. LXIV) et le Landnámabok (chap. clxxi), mène nécessairement à la conclusion qu’elles ne peuvent s’appliquer à aucune « Terre des Hommes blancs » en Amérique ; et, certes, on ne peut découvrir aucune terre à six jours de navigation à voile à l’ouest de l’Irlande. Saint Brendan ou d’autres comme lui peuvent avoir traversé l’Atlantique, mais cette affirmation ne s’appuie sur aucune preuve véritable. S’ils l’ont fait, ils n’y ont laissé aucun souvenir même passager, tels que ceux dont on s’attend à trouver la description dans les sagas islandaises. Nous pouvons donc supposer que les Scandinaves ne sont pas entrés en contact avec, une colonie irlandaise florissante sur la côte orientale du Canada ou des États-Unis d’Amérique.

T. J. OLESON

Navigatio Sancti Brendani abbatis, ed. Carl Selmer (Notre Dame, Indiana, 1959), contient une bibliographie complète sur le sujet.— Geoffrey Ashe, Land to the west (London, 1962).— Eugène Beauvois, La découverte du Nouveau Monde par les Irlandais, et les premières traces du christianisme en Amérique avant l’an 1 000 (Congrès international des Américanistes, Nancy, 1875).— R.-Y. Creston, Journal de bord de Saint-Brendan (Paris, 1957).— Jón Dúason, Landkönnun og Landnám Íslendinga i Vesturheimi (Reykjavik, 1941–47), 292–297, 665–670.— Richard Hennig, Terrae incognitae.— Lanctot, Histoire du Canada, I : 45–59, 62.— G. A. Little, St. Brendan the navigator (Dublin, 1945).— Fridtjof Nansen, In northern mists : arctic exploration in early times (2 vol., London, 1911), II : 42–56.— Denis O’Donoghue, Brendaniana ; St. Brendan the voyager (Dublin, 1893).— Oleson, Early voyages, 100, 125.— E. G. R. Waters, The Anglo-Norman voyage of St. Brendan (Oxford, 1928).

© 2000 University of Toronto/Université Laval



St. Brendan

St. Brendan of Ardfert and Clonfert, known also as Brendan the Voyager, was born in Ciarraighe Luachra, near the present city of Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland, in 484; he died at Enachduin, now Annaghdown, in 577. He was baptized at Tubrid, near Ardfert, by Bishop Erc. For five years he was educated under St. Ita, “the Brigid of Munster”, and he completed his studies under St. Erc, who ordained him priest in 512. Between the years 512 and 530 St. Brendan built monastic cells at Ardfert, and at Shanakeel or Baalynevinoorach, at the foot of Brandon Hill. It was from here that he set out on his famous voyage for the Land of Delight.

St. Brendan belongs to that glorious period in the history of Ireland when the island in the first glow of its conversion to Christianity sent forth its earliest messengers of the Faith to the continent and to the regions of the sea. It is, therefore, perhaps possible that the legends, current in the ninth and committed to writing in the eleventh century, have for foundation an actual sea-voyage the destination of which cannot however be determined.

These adventures were called the “Navigatio Brendani”, the Voyage or Wandering of St. Brendan, but there is no historical proof of this journey. Brendan is said to have sailed in search of a fabled Paradise with a company of monks, the number of which is variously stated as from 18 to 150. After a long voyage of seven years they reached the “Terra Repromissionis”, or Paradise, a most beautiful land with luxuriant vegetation.

The narrative offers a wide range for the interpretation of the geographical position of this land and with it of the scene of the legend of St. Brendan. While many locations had been speculated, in the early part of the nineteenth century belief in the existence of the island was completely abandoned. But soon a new theory arose, maintained by those scholars who claim for the Irish the glory of discovering America, namely, MacCarthy, Rafn, Beamish, O’Hanlon, Beauvois, Gafarel, etc. They rest this claim on the account of the Northmen who found a region south of Vinland and the Chesapeake Bay called “Hvitramamaland” (Land of the White Men) or “Irland ed mikla” (Greater Ireland), and on the tradition of the Shawano (Shawnee) Indians that in earlier times Florida was inhabited by a white tribe which had iron implements.

In regard to Brendan himself the point is made that he could only have gained a knowledge of foreign animals and plants, such as are described in the legend, by visiting the western continent.

The oldest account of the legend is in Latin, “Navigatio Sancti Brendani”, and belongs to the tenth or eleventh century; the first French translation dates from 1125; since the thirteenth century the legend has appeared in the literatures of the Netherlands, Germany, and England.



St. Brendan

St. Brendan of Ardfert and Clonfert, known also as Brendan the Voyager, was born in Ciarraighe Luachra, near the present city of Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland, in 484; he died at Enachduin, now Annaghdown, in 577. He was baptized at Tubrid, near Ardfert, by Bishop Erc. For five years he was educated under St. Ita, "the Brigidof Munster", and he completed his studies under St. Erc, who ordained him priest in 512. Between the years 512 and 530 St. Brendan built monastic cells at Ardfert, and at Shanakeel or Baalynevinoorach, at the foot of Brandon Hill. It was from here that he set out on his famous voyage for the Land of Delight. The old IrishCalendars assigned a special feast for the "Egressio familiae S. Brendani", on 22 March; and St Aengus theCuldee, in his Litany, at the close of the eighth century, invokes "the sixty who accompanied St. Brendan in his quest of the Land of Promise". Naturally, the story of the seven years' voyage was carried about, and, soon, crowds of pilgrims and students flocked to Ardfert. Thus, in a few years, many religious houses were formed at Gallerus, Kilmalchedor, Brandon Hill, and the Blasquet Islands, in order to meet the wants of those who came for spiritual guidance to St. Brendan.


Having established the See of Ardfert, St. Brendan proceeded to Thomond, and founded a monastery at Inis-da-druim (now Coney Island, County Clare), in the present parish of Killadysert, about the year 550. He then journeyed to Wales, and thence to Iona, and left traces of his apostolic zeal at Kilbrandon (near Oban) and Kilbrennan Sound. After a three years' mission in Britain he returned to Ireland, and did much good work in various parts of Leinster, especially at Dysart (Co. Kilkenny), Killiney (Tubberboe), and Brandon Hill. He founded the Sees of Ardfert, and of Annaghdown, and established churches at Inchiquin, County Galway, and at Inishglora, County Mayo. His most celebrated foundation was Clonfert, in 557, over which he appointed St. Moinenn as Prior and Head Master. St. Brendan was interred in Clonfert, and his feast is kept on 16 May.

Voyage of St. Brendan

St. Brendan belongs to that glorious period in the history of Ireland when the island in the first glow of itsconversion to Christianity sent forth its earliest messengers of the Faith to the continent and to the regions of the sea. It is, therefore, perhaps possible that the legends, current in the ninth and committed to writing in the eleventh century, have for foundation an actual sea-voyage the destination of which cannot however be determined. These adventures were called the "Navigatio Brendani", the Voyage or Wandering of St. Brendan, but there is no historical proof of this journey. Brendan is said to have sailed in search of a fabled Paradisewith a company of monks, the number of which is variously stated as from 18 to 150. After a long voyage of seven years they reached the "Terra Repromissionis", or Paradise, a most beautiful land with luxuriant vegetation. The narrative offers a wide range for the interpretation of the geographical position of this land and with it of the scene of the legend of St. Brendan. On the Catalonian chart (1375) it is placed not very far west of the southern part of Ireland. On other charts, however, it is identified with the "Fortunate Isles" of the ancients and is placed towards the south. Thus it is put among the Canary Islands on the Herford chart of the world (beginning of the fourteenth century); it is substituted for the island of Madeira on the chart of the Pizzigani (1367), on the Weimar chart (1424), and on the chart of Beccario (1435). As the increase inknowledge of this region proved the former belief to be false the island was pushed further out into the ocean. It is found 60 degrees west of the first meridian and very near the equator on Martin Behaim's globe. The inhabitants of Ferro, Gomera, Madeira, and the Azores positively declared to Columbus that they had often seen the island and continued to make the assertion up to a far later period. At the end of the sixteenth century the failure to find the island led the cartographers Apianus and Ortelius to place it once more in the ocean west of Ireland; finally, in the early part of the nineteenth century belief in the existence of the island was completely abandoned. But soon a new theory arose, maintained by those scholars who claim for the Irishthe glory of discovering America, namely, MacCarthy, Rafn, Beamish, O'Hanlon, Beauvois, Gafarel, etc. They rest this claim on the account of the Northmen who found a region south of Vinland and the Chesapeake Bay called "Hvitramamaland" (Land of the White Men) or "Irland ed mikla" (Greater Ireland), and on the tradition of the Shawano (Shawnee) Indians that in earlier times Florida was inhabited by a white tribe which had iron implements. In regard to Brendan himself the point is made that he could only have gained a knowledge of foreign animals and plants, such as are described in the legend, by visiting the western continent. On the other hand, doubt was very early expressed as to the value of the narrative for the history of discovery.Honorius of Augsburg declared that the island had vanished; Vincent of Beauvais denied the authenticity of the entire pilgrimage, and the Bollandists do not recognize it. Among the geographers, Alexander von Humboldt, Peschel, Ruge, and Kretschmer, place the story among geographical legends, which are of interestfor the history of civilization but which can lay no claim to serious consideration from the point of view ofgeography. The oldest account of the legend is in Latin, "Navigatio Sancti Brendani", and belongs to the tenth or eleventh century; the first French translation dates from 1125; since the thirteenth century the legend has appeared in the literatures of the Netherlands, Germany, and England. A list of the numerous manuscripts is given by Hardy, "Descriptive Catalogue of Materials Relating to the History of Great Britain and Ireland" (London, 1862), I, 159 sqq. Editions have been issued by : Jubinal, "La Legende latine de S. Brandaines avec une traduction inedite en prose et en poésie romanes" (Paris, 1836); Wright, "St. Brandan, a Medieval Legend of the Sea, in English Verse, and Prose" (London, 1844); C. Schroder, "Sanct Brandan, ein latinischer und drei deutsche Texte" (Erlangen, 1871); Brill, "Van Sinte Brandane" (Gronningen, 1871); Francisque Michel, Les Voyages merveilleux de Saint Brandan a la recherche du paradis terrestre" (Paris, 1878); Fr. Novati, "La Navigatio Sancti Brandani in antico Veneziano" (Bergamo, 1892); E. Bonebakker, "Van Sente Brandane" (Amsterdam, 1894); Carl Wahland gives a list of the rich literature on the subject and the old French prose translation of Brendan's voyage (Upsala, 1900), XXXVI-XC.

Sources

Beamish, The Discovery of America (1881), 210-211; O'Hanlon, Lives of the Irish Saints (Dublin, 1875), V, 389; Peschel, Abhandlungen zur Erd- und Volkerkunde (Leipzig, 1877), I, 20-28; Gaffarel, Les Votages de Saint Brandan et des Papœ dans l'Atlantique au moyen age in Bulletin de la Societé de Géographie de Rochefort (1880-1881), II, 5; Ruge, Geschichte des Zeitalters der Entdeckungen (Leipzig, 1881); Schirmer, Zur Brendanus Legende (Leipzig, 1888); Zimmer, Keltische Beiträge in Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum und deutsche Litteratur (1888-89), 33; Idem, Die frühesten Berührungen der Iren mit den Nordgermanen in Berichte der Akademie der Wissenschaft (Berlin, 1891); Kretschmer, Die Entdeckung Amerikas (Berlin, 1892, Calmund, 1902), 186-195; Brittain, The History of North America (Philadelphia, 1907), I, 10; Rafn, Ant. Amer., XXXVII, and 447-450; Avezac, Les Iles fantastiques de l'océan occidental in Nouv. An. des voyages et de science geogr., (1845), I, 293; MacCarthy, The voyage of St. Brendan, in Dublin University Magazine (Jan. 1848), 89 sqq.

Grattan-Flood, William, and Otto Hartig. "St. Brendan." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 16 May 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02758c.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Kieran O'Shea.


Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.



Brendan the Voyager, Abbot (RM)

Born c. 484-489; died at Annaghdown, Ireland, c. 577-583.


"I fear that I shall journey alone, that the way will be dark; I fear the unknown land, the presence of my King and the sentence of my judge."--The dying words of Saint Brendan to his sister Abbess Brig.

Like the wanderings of Ulysses, the story of Saint Brendan voyaging over perilous waters was a popular story in the Middle Ages. We see him as only a shadow in the old Celtic world, and who he was or where he came from is uncertain, though it is supposed that he was born the son of Findlugh on Fenit Peninsula in Kerry, Ireland, of an ancient and noble line. It is said that he studied theology under Saint Ita (f.d. January 15) at Killeedy, that he was a contemporary and disciple of Saint Finian (f.d. December 12) and later Saint Gildas at Llancarfan in Wales, and that later he founded a monastery at Saint Malo.

Another version of his early life says that the infant Saint Brendan was given into the care of Saint Ita, who taught him three things that God really loves: "the true faith of a pure heart; the simple religious life; and bountifulness inspired by Christian charity." She would have added the three things God hates are "a scowling face; obstinate wrong-doing; and too much confidence in money." When he was six he was sent to Saint Jarlath's monastery school at Tuam for his education, and was ordained by Bishop Saint Erc in 512.

Though Brendan was a real person, fabulous stories are told how his wanderings in search of an unknown land, perhaps the Faroes, the Canaries, or the Azores. For seven years he voyaged to find the Promised Land of the saints.

On the Kerry coast, with 14 chosen monks, he built a coracle of wattle, covered it with hides tanned in oak bark softened with butter, and set up a mast and a sail, and after a prayer upon the shore, he embarked in the name of the Trinity. After strange wanderings he returned to Ireland and, about 559, founded a great monastery at Clonfert in Galway of 3,000 monks and a convent under his sister Briga (f.d. January 21). He gave his monks a rule of remarkable austerity.

Later he visited the holy island of Iona, which was the center of much missionary activity. He founded numerous other monasteries in Ireland and several sees. And he himself made missionary journeys into England and Scotland.

From Ireland's Eye

It is said that Columbus, to whom Brendan's story would have been familiar, may have been inspired by the saint's epic saga Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis. Long before Columbus, the Irish monks were renowned as travellers and explorers. Tradition says that they reached Iceland and explored even farther afield in the Atlantic--perhaps as far as America.

Scholars long doubted the voyage to the Promised Land described by Brendan could have been to North America, but some modern scholars now believe that he may have done just that. In 1976-77, Tim Severin, an expert on exploration, following the instructions in the Navigatio built a hide-covered curragh and then sailed it from Ireland to Newfoundland via Iceland and Greenland, demonstrating the accuracy of its directions and descriptions of the places Brendan mentioned in his epic.

Brendan himself stands out in a dark age as the captain of a Christian crew. Like the Greeks and the Vikings, he had a craving for the sea, but he built his boat, and launched it in the name of the Lord and sailed it under the ensign of the Cross. It is a thrilling saga, for all its strangeness, and set many a sailor later to search in vain for Saint Brendan's Island; but none ever found it, though it was said at times to be seen, like an Isle of Paradise, riding above the surface of the sea.

Now the great mountain that juts out into the Atlantic in County Kerry is called Mount Brandon, because he had a little chapel atop it, and the bay at the foot of the mountain is Brandon Bay. Brendan probably died while visiting his sister Briga, abbess of a convent at Enach Duin (Annaghdown) (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Gill, Little, Severin, Webb).

Below I've recounted some of the many legends surrounding Saint Brendan:

There is a graphic description of one of their expeditions: "Three Scots came to King Alfred, in a boat without oars, from Ireland, whence they had stolen away, because for the love of God they desired to be on pilgrimage, they recked not whither. The boat in which they came was made of two hides and a half; and they took with them provisions for seven days; and about the seventh day they came on shore in Cornwall, and soon after went to King Alfred" (Gill).

Saint Brendan was chanting the office for the Feast of Saint Paul the Apostle, when his brethren asked him to do so quietly for fear of disturbing the sea monsters. He laughed, "What has driven out your faith? Fear naught but the Lord our God, and love Him in fear. Many perils have tried you, but the Lord brought you safely out of them all. There is no danger here. What are you afraid of?" And he celebrated Mass more solemnly than before.

"Thereupon the monsters of the deep began to rise on all sides, and making merry for joy of the Feast, followed after the ship. Yet when the office of the day was ended, they straightway turned back and went their way" (Plummer).

They sailed to another small, lovely island, in which there was a whirlpool. "They went across the island, and found a church built of stone, and in it a venerable old man at his prayers. . . . And the old man said to them, 'O holy men of God, make haste to flee from this island. For there is a sea-cat here, of old time, inveterate in wiles, that hath grown huge through eating excessively of fish.' Thereupon they turned back in haste to their ship, and abandoned the island.

"But lo, behind them they saw that beast swimming through the sea, and it had great eyes like vessels of glass. Thereupon they all fell to prayer, and Brendan said, 'Lord Jesus Christ, hinder Thy beast.' And straightway arose another beast from the depths of the sea, and approaching fell to battle with the first; and both went down to the depth of the sea, nor were they further seen. Then they gave thanks to God, and turned back to the old man, to question him as to his way of living and whence he had come.

"And he said to them, 'We were twelve men from the island of Ireland that came to this place, seeking the place of our resurrection. Eleven be dead; and I alone remain, awaiting, O Saint of God, the Host from thy hands. We brought with us in the ship a cat, a most amiable cat and greatly loved by us; but he grew to great bulk through eating of fish, as I said; yet our Lord Jesus Christ did not suffer him to harm us.'

"And then he showed them the way to the land which they sought; and receiving the Host at the hands of Brendan, he fell joyfully asleep in the Lord; and he was buried beside his companions" (Plummer).

Then they came to an island filled with flowers and fruit trees and found harbor. "The Brendan said to his brethren, 'Behold, our Lord Jesus Christ, the good, the merciful, hath given us this place wherein to abide His holy resurrection. My brothers, if we had naught else to restore our bodies, this spring alone would suffice us for meat and drink.'

"Now there was above the spring a tree of strange height, covered with birds of dazzling white, so crowded on the tree that scarcely could it be seen by human eyes. And looking upon it the man of God began to ponder within himself what cause had brought so great a multitude of birds together on one tree."

[He prayed with tears that God might reveal the mystery of the birds to him.]

"And the bird spoke to him. 'We are,' it said, 'of that great ruin of the ancient foe, who did not consent to him wholly. Yet because we consented in part to his sin, our ruin also befell. For God is just, and keeps truth and mercy. And so by His judgment He sent us to this place, where we know no other pain than that we cannot see the presence of God, and so hath He estranged us from the fellowship of those who stood firm. On the solemn feasts and on the Sabbaths we take such bodies as you see, and abide here, praising our Maker. And as other spirits who are sent through the divers regions of the air and the earth, so may we speed also.

"'Now hast thou with thy brethren been one year upon thy journey; and six years yet remain. Where this day thou dost keep the Easter Feast, there shalt thou keep it throughout every year of thy pilgrimage, and thereafter shalt thou find the thing that thou hast set in thy heart, the land that was promised to the saints.' And when the bird had spoken thus, it raised itself up from the prow, and took its flight to the rest.

"And when the hour of evening drew on, then began all the birds that were on the tree to sing as with one voice, beating their wings and saying, 'Praise waiteth for Thee, O Lord, in Sion: and unto Thee shall the vow be performed.' And they continued repeating that verse, for the space of one hour.

"It seemed to the brethren that the melody and the sound of the wings was like a lament that is sweetly sung. Then said Saint Brendan to the brethren, 'Do ye refresh your bodies, for this day have your souls been filled with the heavenly bread.' And when the Feast was ended, the brethren began to sing the office; and thereafter they rested in quiet until the third watch of the night.

"Then the man of God awaking, began to rouse the brethren for the Vigils of the Holy Night. And when he had begun the verse, 'Lord, open Thou my lips, and my heart shall show forth Thy praise,' all the birds rang out with voice and wing, singing, 'Praise the Lord, all ye His angels; praise ye Him, all His hosts.' And even as at Vespers, they sang for the space of one hour.

"Then, when dawn brought the ending of the night, they all began to sing, 'And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,' with equal melody and length of chanting, as had been at Matins.

"At Tierce they sang this verse: 'Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing ye praises with understanding.' And at Sext they sang, 'Lord, lift up the light of Thy countenance upon us, and have mercy upon us.' At Nones they said, 'Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.' And so day and night the birds sang praises to God. And throughout the octaves of the Feast they continued in the praises of God. . . .

"Here then the brethren remained until the Whitsun Feast; for the sweet singing of the birds was their delight and their reviving. . . . But when the octave of the feast was ended, the Saint bade his brethren to make ready the ship, and fill their vessels with water from the spring. And when all was made ready, came the aforesaid bird in swift flight, and rested on the prow of the ship, and said, as if to comfort them against the perils of the sea: 'Know that where ye held the Lord's Supper, in the year that is past, there in like fashion shall ye be on that same night this year. . . . After eight months ye shall find an island . . . whereon ye shall celebrate the Lord's Nativity.' And when the bird had foretold these things, it returned to its own place.

"Then the brethren began to spread their sails and go out to sea. And the birds were singing as with one voice, saying, 'Hear us, O God of our salvation, Who art the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon the sea.' And so for three months they were borne on the breadth of ocean, and saw nothing beyond the sea and sky" (Plummer; these stories are also told in Curtayne).

In art, Saint Brendan is shown saying Mass on ship as the fish crowd round to listen to him. He may also be shown holding a candle. Just inside the main doors of Saint Patrick's, across from Saint Brigid (f.d. February 1), stands a statue of Saint Brendan holding his ship. Brendan is the patron of seafarers and travellers, and is venerated in Ireland (Roeder).


Interested in learning more about Saint Brendan? Visit The Voyage of Brendan the Navigator and La Isla Fantasma: San Borondon (in Spanish but some great pictures). The first discusses the possibility that Brendan reached the New World. The second speaks of the legend of Brendan's visit to the Canary Islands. Enjoy!
St. Brendan the Elder, Abbot in Ireland
[Abbot of Cluain-fearta, or Clonfert, upon the river Shannon.]  HE was son of Findloga, and a disciple of St. Finian at Clonard. Passing afterwards into Wales he lived some time under the discipline of St. Gildas, also several years in the abbey of Llan-carven, in Glamorganshire. He built in Britain the monastery of Ailech, and another church in a territory called Heth. Returning into Ireland he founded there several schools and monasteries, the chief of which was that of Cluain-fearta. 1 He wrote a monastic rule which was long famous in Ireland, taught some time at Ros-carbre, and died at Enachduin, a monastery which he had built for his sister Briga, in Connaught. He is named in the Roman Martyrology on the 16th of May, on which he passed to bliss, in the year 578, in the ninety-fourth year of his age. His life extant in MS. in the Cottonian Library is filled with apochryphal relations of miracles; see Usher’s Antiq. p. 271, 471, 494; Smith’s Natural and Civil History of Kerry, p. 412, and 68.
 Note 1. Two great monasteries in Ireland, the heads of their respective Orders, had the same name of Cluainfearta: this on the Shannon, in Connaught, in the county of Galway, where now is the episcopal see of Clonfert: the other founded by St. Luan or Molua in Leinster, called from him Cluain-fearta-Molua. Cluain, in the old Irish language signifies a retired or hidden place; and Fearta, wonders or miracles. [back]
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume V: May. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.
SOURCE : http://www.bartleby.com/210/5/167.html


BRENDAN (Bréanainn), SAINT, Irish abbot and missionary, traditionally connected with voyages westward towards North America and possibly even to present-day Canada; b. c. 484; d. c. 578.

It is believed that he was born near Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland, the son of Christian parents. He was ordained at the age of 26 and later founded the important monastery at Clonfert, County Galway, of which he was abbot. Mt. Brandon, on Dingle peninsula, is named after the saint, and to the west of it is the supposed location of “St. Brendan’s Isle.”

St. Brendan is reputed to have visited such places as the Faeroe Islands, Iceland, Jan Mayen Island, the Antilles, the Azores, the Canaries, and even Greenland and the mainland of America. Although the Irish had reached and even established a religious community in Iceland before A.D. 800, there is nothing to connect Brendan with this venture. Nor is there any reliable evidence to show that either Brendan or any of his countrymen had ever reached Greenland or America. Very early a Vita Sancti Brendani was written and then later a Navigatio which incorporated parts of the Vita and the date of which is disputed (Selmer dates the earliest manuscript at the turn of the 10th to the 11th century). This Navigatio relates the voyage or voyages of the saint in search of the paradisum terrestre (tir tairgirne) or Promised Land of the saints. It was circulated in numerous manuscripts and translated into many languages.

It is a much more reasonable argument that, where the Navigatio Sancti Brendani contains what might be construed as information about the seas or lands west of Iceland, this was derived from accounts of the voyages of the Norsemen in the north Atlantic (or, in cases where Iceland seems to be indicated, from the Irish monks who fled Iceland at the approach of the Norsemen in 870) transmitted by the numerous Scandinavians who visited or settled in Ireland in the years 800–1200.

A close scrutiny of the relevant Icelandic sagas (Saga of Eric the Red, (chap. 12); Eyrbyggja saga (chap. 64); and the Landnámabok (chap. 171)) can lead only to the conclusion that they are inapplicable to any “White Men’s Land” in America, and indeed no land is to be found in six days’ sailing west of Ireland. St. Brendan or others like him may have crossed the Atlantic but there is no real evidence for this view. If they did, they left not even transient memorials, such as one would expect to find described in the Icelandic sagas. Therefore we may assume that the Norsemen did not come into contact with a flourishing Irish colony on the east coast of Canada or of the United States of America.

T. J. OLESON

Navigatio Sancti Brendani abbatis, ed. Carl Selmer (Notre Dame, Ind., 1959) contains a full bibliography and account of the MSS material. Geoffrey Ashe, Land to the west (London, 1962). Eugène Beauvois, La découverte du Nouveau Monde par les Irlandais, et les premières traces du christianisme en Amérique avant l’an 1000 (Congrès international des Américanistes, Nancy, 1875). R.-Y. Creston, Journal de bord de Saint-Brendan (Paris, 1957). Jón Dúason, Landkönnun og Landnám Íslendinga i Vesturheimi (Reykjavík, 1941–47), 292–97, 665–70. Hennig, Terrae incognitae. Lanctot, Histoire du Canada, I, 45–59, 62. G. A. Little, St. Brendan the navigator (Dublin, 1945). Fridtjof Nansen, In northern mists: arctic exploration in early times (2v., London, 1911), II, 42–56. Denis O’Donoghue, Brendaniana: St. Brendan the voyager (Dublin, 1893). Oleson, Early voyages, 100, 125. E. G. R. Waters, The Anglo-Norman voyage of St. Brendan (Oxford, 1928).

© 2000 University of Toronto/Université Laval



St. Brendan (Brendan the Voyager, Brendan the Navigator) belongs to that glorious period in the history of Ireland when the island, in the first glow of conversion to Christianity, sent forth its earliest messengers of the Faith to the continent and to the regions of the sea. The stories of Saint Brendan voyaging over perilous waters were popular in the Middle Ages, and his travels were as well known as the wanderings of Ulysses.

He was born on the Fenit Peninsula in Ciarraighe Luachra, near the present city of Tralee, in the diocese of Ardfert and Aghadoe, County Kerry, Ireland, in 484. Many accounts agree that he was the son of Findlugh, from an ancient and noble family. He was baptized at Tubrid, near Ardfert, by Bishop Erc. One version of his early life says that the infant Saint Brendan was given into the care of Saint Ita of Killeedy, "The Brigid of Munster," who taught him three things that God really loves: "the true faith of a pure heart; the simple religious life; and bountifulness inspired by Christian charity." When he was six he was sent to Saint Jarlath's monastery school at Tuam for more childhood education. In 512 Bishop Erc ordained Brendan to the priesthood; between the years 512 and 530 he built monastic cells at Ardfert, at Shanakeel or Baalynevinoorach, and at the foot of Brandon Hill. It was from here that he set out on his most famous voyage.

On the Kerry coast, he built a coracle of wattle, covered it with hides tanned in oak bark softened with butter, set up a mast and a sail, and after a prayer upon the shore, embarked in the name of the Trinity. For seven years he voyaged to find the Promised Land of the saints, and fabulous stories are told of his wanderings. The great seafaring legends attached to St. Brendan, first committed to writing in the eleventh century, have for foundation an actual sea-voyage the destination of which cannot ever be determined. These adventures were called the "Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis" the Voyage or Wandering of St. Brendan, commonly known as the Navigatio. Brendan set forth with a company of monks, the number of which is variously stated as from 18 to 150, and after a long voyage of seven years they reached the "Terra Repromissionis", the Paradise or Promised Land, a most beautiful island with luxuriant vegetation.

Over the years there have been many interpretations of the possible geographical position of this island. Various pre-Columbian sea-charts indicated it everywhere from the southern part of Ireland, to the Canary Islands, Faroes or Azores, to the island of Madeira, to a point 60 degrees west of the first meridian and very near the equator. Belief in the existence of the island was almost completely abandoned when a new theory arose, maintained by those who claim for the Irish the glory of discovering America. This claim rests in part on the account of the Vikings who found a region south of the Chesapeake Bay called "Irland ed mikla" (Greater Ireland), and on stone carvings discovered in West Virginia dated between 500 and 1000 A.D. Analysis by archaeologist Robert Pyle and language expert Barry Fell indicate that these carvings are written in Old Irish using the Ogham alphabet. According to Fell, "the West Virginia Ogham texts are the oldest Ogham inscriptions anywhere in the world. They exhibit the grammar and vocabulary of Old Irish in a manner previously unknown in such early rock-cut inscriptions in any Celtic language."

Brendan himself stands out in a dark age as the captain of a Christian crew. Like the Greeks and the Vikings, he had a craving for the sea, but when he built his boat, he launched it in the name of the Lord, and sailed it under the ensign of the Cross. Dr. Fell goes on to speculate that, "It seems possible that the scribes that cut the West Virginia inscriptions may have been Irish missionaries in the wake of Brendan's voyage, for these inscriptions are Christian. Early Christian symbols such as Chi-Rho monograms (Name of Christ) and the Dextra Dei (Right Hand of God) appear at the sites together with the Ogham texts."

It is true that the Irish monks were renowned as travellers and explorers centuries before Columbus. Tradition says that they reached Iceland and explored even farther afield in the Atlantic. Some scholars who long doubted that the voyage described by Brendan could have made it to North America have reconsidered their position based on the research and pilgrimage of British navigation scholar Tim Severin. Severin, over several years in the late 1970s, did an extraordinary thing: he built a hide-covered boat following the instructions in the Navigatio, and sailed it from Ireland to Newfoundland via Iceland and Greenland, demonstrating the accuracy of its directions and descriptions of the places Brendan mentioned in his epic, and proving that a small boat could have sailed from Ireland to North America.

After many years of seafaring Brendan at last returned to Ireland. As the story of the seven years' voyage was carried about, crowds of pilgrims and students flocked to Ardfert. In a few years, many religious houses were formed at Gallerus, Kilmalchedor, Brandon Hill, and the Blasquet Islands to serve the many people who sought spiritual guidance from St. Brendan. Brendan then founded a monastery at Inis-da-druim (now Coney Island, County Clare), in the present parish of Killadysert, about the year 550. He journeyed to Wales, and studied under Saint Gildas at Llancarfan. He visited Iona, and was a contemporary and disciple of St. Finian. He left traces of his apostolic zeal at Kilbrandon (near Oban) and Kilbrennan Sound. After three years in Britain he returned to Ireland and did much good work in various parts of Leinster, especially at Dysart (Co. Kilkenny), Killiney (Tubberboe), and Brandon Hill. The great mountain that juts out into the Atlantic in County Kerry is called Mount Brandon, because he built a little chapel atop it, and the bay at the foot of the mountain is Brandon Bay. He also founded the Sees of Ardfert, and of Annaghdown, and established churches at Inchiquin, County Galway, and at Inishglora, County Mayo. Brendan's most celebrated foundation was Clonfert in Galway, in 557, over which he appointed St. Moinenn as Prior and Head Master. The great monastery at Clonfert housed 3,000 monks, whose rule of life was constructed with remarkable austerity, and also included a convent for women initially placed under the charge of his sister, St. Briga.

Brendan died at Enach Duin, now called Annaghdown, in 577, on a visit to his sister while she was abbess of a convent there. Despite a life of exceeding piety and many dangerous travels, he had great anxiety about the holy Journey of death. His dying words to Briga are reported to have been: "I fear that I shall journey alone, that the way will be dark; I fear the unknown land, the presence of my King and the sentence of my judge."

Brendan's feast day is celebrated on May 16.

SOURCE : http://www.allsaintsbrookline.org/celtic_saints/brendan.html


Voir aussi : http://www.utqueant.org/net/fascinationbren.html