When St. Brendan got back from his travels discovering America in a small wooden and leather boat around 564 AD, he wrote a book in Latin, 'Navigatio Brendani' or 'The Voyage of Brendan', which, some 900 years later (1477) convinced Christopher Columbus that there might just be something out there beyond the western horizon.
The rest is history!
After he got back to Ireland, Brendan, filled with a missionary zeal, sailed from his native Kerry, round by the Aran islands, in by Salthill to Galway and soon founded an Abbey at Annaghdown, five miles up the Corrib River from Galway City (which did not exist for another 700 years).
Later on, he founded the Cathedral at Clonfert, between Portumna and Athlone, on the banks of the River Shannon. Clonfert Cathedral is still in use as a church today and has a most magnificent Romanesque doorway that attracts visitors from all over the world each year. St. Brendan is the Patron Saint of the Diocese of Clonfert and I suppose, he really is our Irish patron saint of Journeys and Voyages.
He died at the Abbey in Annaghdown in the care of his sister, Briga and is buried at Clonfert.
This is his prayer. It can be applied to many journeys, including those of the spirit and the mind.
It is as meaningful today as it was 1500 years ago.
Prayer of St. Brendan the Navigator
'Help me to journey beyond the familiar
and into the unknown.
Give me the faith to leave old ways
and break fresh ground with You.
Christ of the mysteries, I trust You
to be stronger than each storm within me.
I will trust in the darkness and know
that my times, even now, are in Your hand.
Tune my spirit to the music of heaven,
and somehow, make my obedience count for You.'
One of the many stories I tell on my Walking Tours of Galway. If you ever go to Galway, come join me on a wonderful walk of discovery in Galway, the City of the Tribes, European Capital of Culture 2020. Follow me on Twitter @galwaywalks or on Facebook www.facebook.com/galwaywalks/
Image from 'Navigatio Brendani', St. Brendan encounters a whale.