Lives of the Saints

Our Models and Protectors

May 16
  

Saint Brendan the Navigator

Abbot of Clonfert
(484-577)

Saint Brendan the Navigator
Saint Brendan the Navigator

Saint Brendan was born in County Kerry, Ireland, in the year 484. His education was confided to Saint Ita, called the Bridget of Munster, and later to Saint Erc; the latter ordained him a priest in 512. Between the years 512 and 530 he built monastic cells at Ardfert and Shanakeel, at the foot of Brandon Hill. From the latter colony he set out on his famous voyage of seven years, accompanied by a number of monks, according to the account of Saint Aengus at the close of the eighth century. When Saint Brendan's narration of the trip was transcribed and read after his return, crowds of pilgrims and students came to Ardfert, and it was necessary to found many religious houses at various sites for those who wished to live under the Saint's direction. He established the See of Ardfert, then founded a monastery in County Clare in about 550.

He journeyed afterwards to Wales and Iona. After a three years' mission in Britain, he returned to Ireland and concerned himself with charitable works in the region of Leinster. He founded another see at Annaghdown, and at least four churches in different counties of Ireland. The monastery of Clonfert was founded in 557, and there Saint Brendan died, in an advanced old age.

The Catholic Encyclopedia, edited by C. G. Herbermann with numerous collaborators (Appleton Company: New York, 1908).