This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Monday, May 16, 2011

May 16 -- Feast of St. Brendan the Navigator

Brendan was an Irish monk in the golden age of Irish monks. There were about two generations of Big Green Dogs; the second generation included Brigid, Brendan, Columba, Briga, Erc, Finian, Ciaran, and Enda.

Brendan was said to have established the Clonfert monastery, which housed around three thousand monks. It could boggle a mind that bothered to think about it -- perhaps it is best not to. The Rule by which the brothers lived was said to have been dictated by an angel. That too is best to take on faith or not -- thinking won't help much.

Brendan set out in a coracle -- a tippy little Celtic boat -- to evangelize the Atlantic islands. As the legend has it, he and his companions pulled ashore on Easter to light a fire and say Mass, only to discover that their island had been a sleeping sea monster named Jasconius. Roused by the fire on its back, Jasconius interrupted Mass and sent the brothers scrambling back to their coracle.

The legend, recounted in The Voyage of Saint Brendan the Abbot, has lots of wild adventures. They even meet Judas, taking a break from Hell. I'll add the book to the list of things I ought to have read.

They were apparently looking for Eden, but eventually made landfall in North America instead. Having lived all my years (so far) in North America, I can attest that it is nice, but it is not Eden. Anyway, Brendan made it here long before that gentleman from the Italian peninsula for who the Capital District is named. Don't believe me? Ask any Celt.

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