Friday, May 16, 2008

St. Brendan the Navigator, Part II

Last post we talked about St. Brendan and his fantastical voyage. Many historians looked at it as just that - fantastic and nothing more. Just fiction. To the die-hards who wanted to believe it, they would merely say, even if you could explain all the mythical creatures, you still have the problem of an Irish curraugh (a canoe-esque type boat) being able to make it across the North Atlantic. Cannot be done. Tim Severin said it could. Nobody believed him, so he set out to prove it.

Severin is one cool guy. He regularly risks his life retracing legendary voyages. He had already retraced Marco Polo's trip and later went on to retrace the Odyssey, Sinbad's voyage, and even searched for Moby Dick. He could not pass this one up. So in the 1970s, he and a few buddies built a boat, in the same manor that St. Brendan and his monks would have.

Upon finishing the leather and wood boat, he christened it Brendan and blessed it with the following chant: "Bless this boat, O True Christ/Convey her free and safe across the sea…/To go to the land of promise is your right/ You are like a guide of Brendan’s time/Guide our boat now."

During his voyage, he found many things that was comparable to St. Brendan's story. Brendan mentioned seeing God's Stepping Stones - Severin found the Hebrides, the Faroes, Iceland, and Greenland. Brendan wrote of crystal columns rising from the see - Severin found icebergs. Brendan had encounters with fire giants hurtling flames from their forge - Severin found volcanoes erupting in Iceland. Brendan had moving islands like sea monsters - Severin said that whales often came and swam steadily beside the boat (maybe interested in the cow hide the boat was made of). Eventually Severin made it to America, proving that such a voyage was possible and moving Brendan out of myth and back into possible reality.

So should we Begin a campaign to change North, Central, and South America to North, Central, and South Brendan? Works for me. If you want to read first hand how Severin did it, he wrote a book about his journey. You can find information about it on his web site:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

St. Brendan the navigator pray for us