Brendan Biography

(Irish Monastic Saints and One of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland)

Born: 484

Born In: Fenit, Ireland

Saint Brendan, who is also known by other names such as Brendan the Voyager or Brendan the Navigator, was an Irish Celtic saint. He is also known as one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland and is reputed for his legendary quest to the ‘Isle of the Blessed’, which also became known as Saint Brendan’s Island. Several Christian groups including Catholics, Anglicans, and Orthodox Christians, celebrate 16th May as Saint Brendan’’s feast day. Throughout his life, Brendan was known for travelling to various places across the world. He is known for voyaging to the Hebrides, as well as journeying to Western Scotland. Sometime, probably in the 8th century, he was also made the hero of a legendary Christian tale of sea adventure, which became a famous Irish epic ‘Voyage of St. Brendan the Abbot’.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Brendan of Clonfert Brénainn moccu Alti, Brénainn maccu Alti

Died At Age: 93


father: Finnlug

mother: Cara

siblings: Briga

Born Country: Ireland

Saints Priests

Died on: 577

place of death: Annaghdown, Ireland

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Life & Works
Brendan was born in Tralee, in County Kerry, Munster, located in the Southwest of Ireland, in 484 AD. He was born among a tribe known as the Altraige, which centered on Tralee Bay. His parents were Finnlug and Cara. He studied under Saint Erc. The latter ordained him as a priest in 512 AD. Between 512 AD and 530 AD, he also built monastic cells at various places. For his first voyage, he headed for the Aran Islands, and founded a monastery. He then visited Hinba, an island near Scotland.
Brendan became known for his legendary journey to the Isle of the Blessed, which has been described properly in the epic ‘Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis’ (Voyage of Saint Brendan the Abbot). There are several versions of the story that narrate his journey to the Atlantic Ocean with sixteen monks, in his quest for paradise, aka the Garden of Eden. During this quest, he found the ‘Isle of the Blessed’, which also became known as Saint Brendan’s Island.
The epic ‘Voyage of Saint Brendan the Abbot’ was written somewhere around 900 AD. All over Europe, there are also numerous manuscripts narrating the journey, as well as several translations. According to the ‘Navigatio’, he also made a voyage in the Atlantic, with few other monks to the ‘Promised Land of the Saints’, which possibly became the Canary Islands, later.
Saint Brendan also became known for visiting several other places including the Faeroe Islands, Iceland, the Antilles, and even Greenland. It is also said that he had visited the mainland of America. However, much of this is debated by many, as there is no reliable evidence available to show or prove that he had reached Greenland or America. Although the Irish had reached and also established their religious community in Iceland before 800 AD, no connection can be seen between this venture and Brendan’s. It is also debated that what is written in ‘Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis’ actually might be information about the seas as well as lands located on the west side of Island that might be accounted from the voyages of Norsemen.
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Later Years & Death
During his later years, Saint Brendan returned to Ireland, where he founded a monastery in Annaghdown. He spenT the rest of his remaining life in the monastery. He passed away in 577 AD, while he was paying a visit to his sister named Briga.
He had previously arranged to have his body secretly returned to a monastery in Clonfert, as he had the fear that some of his devotees might take his body’s remains as relics. He was eventually interred in Clonfert Cathedral.

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