Monday, May 19, 2008

Saint Brendan the Geographer

While I was getting my "how not to die in Iraq" training I missed the feast day of Saint Brendan the Navigator. St. Brendan was an Irish monk who is known for his journey. What can be agreed upon is that in the early 500s he went on a sailing trip and came back; after that everything is a bit up in the air. His story is written in mystical tones involving sea monster islands, meeting dead saints, food parties of hell, and much more.

Some historical geographers believe St. Brendan may have traveled to Iceland and wrote about its volcanoes. The sea monsters who did not threaten the boats may have been whales. There are even theories that the saint may have reached the Americas. When St. Brendan returned some other monks and adventures went on their own journeys, some known some lost to the sea or time. Regardless, stories of Vikings meeting Indians who called themselves "Father" in a church sense (see second link), Indian stories of white men with facial hair, and other tales lead one to think of the possibility of pre-Columbian, Irish-New World contact.

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