Saint Brendan(the Culdee)’s Voyage to America in the 6th Century

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Today our Church of the Culdees remembers Saint Brendan. Below you’ll find an article on the plausibility of his voyage. One of many such articles. St Brendan was a companion of St Columba, who also prayed for their search for the Isle of the Blessed, exchanged gifts, and supported each other in ministry. They were both educated at the school of St Fintan (venerated as one of the twelve apostles of Ireland, and per Bishop Forbes’ “Kalendars of Scottish Saints,” of the band of Culdee fathers).

Have you wondered why there is so much anti-Columbus hatred? It may have a spiritual root. It’s a historical fact that Columbus had quoted St Brendan as proof of a Westward land in his plea to get a charter to sail to the West. 

Those who are familiar with the legends of Saint Brendan, know that the stories culminate in his great Voyages in “spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ”. Most of all we know of his most epic voyage to the “Promised land for the Saints, spoken of by our forefathers”. This last phrase is again and again re-iterated throughout the historical texts, describing his mission to the “land for the Saints, promised to our forefathers”. Several of the texts describing this mission are dated near his lifetime, and most originate back to the pre-schism Orthodox times.

Saint Brendan And The Voyage Before Columbus by [Mike McGrew]
Artwork from a children’s book on the topic.

A major discipline of our Priory being the study of history, requires our students to be well educated of this promised land of the West. This being the land spoken of by the Irish founder of religion, Jeremiah the Prophet. As he had written in the Holy Bible the word of YAHWEH God, that the new place for the Kingdom of Israel was to be transplanted far “North and West” away from the old land of Israel. This would be where finally all the birthright promises would be fulfilled, where Israel would become multiplied as the sands of the sea and become the great and mighty nation foretold. This land far West from Ireland was intricately detailed in the tales of his voyage. Various Irish artifacts attest to his success landing at West Virginia (as covered in the following pages). The voyage was considered valid all around the world, long before Christopher Columbus made his journey. Although the Biblical prophet Jeremiah had successfully moved King David’s throne to Ireland in 500BC, he still spoke of that land YAHWEH would appoint for Israel that would be “North and West” from the old land of Israel (only two tribes were given the name Israel under Joseph, being Ephraim(company of nations England) and Manasseh(great nation America)).

Still Judah and Levi were the main tribes concerning the Kingdom in 500BC, and not till after Christ that the other nations (10 Tribes) joined together as the one body ruled over by the twelve Apostles. As it says immediately after Christ’s death the Apostles begun to rule(servant rulers) on twelve thrones over the twelve tribes of Israel, as Christ also was appointed to rule, as the greatest of servants. Judah of the Zarah branch are well recorded through history as already having migrated and these sons and grandsons of Judah, ie Darda (Dardanus) were so greatly known, and yet Solomon was wiser than they.

King David had often prophesied about a “new land for the Kingdom” even at the time of the peak of Israel’s greatness that still God would “appoint a land” for His people to move to where they are free to keep God’s laws in peace. So Jeremiah knew of these prophecies, and yet YAHWEH gave him yet still fresh new prophecies about the destruction of Judah from the old land and the new land for Israel to become the great nations North and West. So through providence Jeremiah escaped with the Kings Daughters and Baruch the scribe to do just as God said, to “transplant” the kingdom exactly, and as he had written down about this “uprooting” to be planted and built as the true Israel of God in the North Western new nations *joining with the other 10 tribes who were then known as Scythians etc deep into idolotry*. The Celts were less tainted with idols, from which later came the Culdees, the first Christian priests. We know it is historically recorded that the daughters of the King of Judah are did indeed successfully migrate with Jeremiah to that well known Egyptian trade post in Ireland *where Scota had married an Irish King*. One of these daughters of King Zedekiah of Judah was known as princess Tea Tephi, who then made her home at Tara hill with the Kings. These things are not only in the Holy Scriptures but in the ancient (and several still today official) histories of several nations. Princess Tea Tephi did marry another Irish King, as was often in Eastern histories. So the older Zarah line of Judah (as is in the heraldry of the House of Niall, the bloody red hand of Zarah, and his knights of the scarlet thread) married the line of Pharez who were the line who stayed and ruled Judea. This union thus made Ireland of the highest Davidic branch Nobility of the world. In the Orange Order of Ireland you can’t get membership if you don’t firmly believe Ireland is descendant of the Levites. It’s well known anywhere in our Christian civilization that the Irish people are called “sons of Aaron”, it even is a name people give to typical Irishmen “son of Aaron”. We know demographically they have the most people anywhere named Jeremiah, after this referenced “forefather”. Jeremiah’s dated grave remains a part of Irish history. All of the above mentioned facts are well expounded upon and recorded in numerous Biblical and historical studies. These are well covered in in hundreds of books at length. We distribute several of the high quality books on the above topic to our students / church members.

The article selected to be shared was written by a staunch Irish Christian patriot, of which I will give you his contact details:

Daniel Sullivan
418 Pebble Beach   Dr
Creswell, Oregon


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St Brendan’s Isle
Or: Who Really Discovered America?
Maps of Columbus’s time often included an island called St. Brendan’s Isle that was placed in the western Atlantic ocean. Map makers of the time had no idea of it’s exact position but did believe it existed some where west of Europe. It was mentioned in a Latin text dating from the ninth century titled Navigatio Santi Brendani Abatis (Voyage of Saint Brendan the Abbot). It described the voyage as having taken place in the sixth century. Several copies of this text have survived in monasteries throughout Europe. It was an important part of folklore in medieval Europe and may have influenced Columbus.
Historians relate that Brendan was born about 484 A.D. near Tralee in County Kerry. He was ordained by Bishop Erc and sailed about northwest Europe spreading the Christian faith and founding monasteries, the largest at Clonfert, County Galway, where he was buried in 577 A.D. at the age of 93.
The account of Brendan’s voyage contained a detailed description of the construction of his boat which was not unlike the currachs still made in County Kerry today. Skeptics could not accept that such a fragile vessel could possibly sail in the open sea. Several passages in the legend also seemed incredible—they were “raised up on the back of sea monsters”, they “passed by crystals that rose up to the sky”, and were “pelted with flaming, foul smelling rocks by the inhabitants of a large island on their route”. They finally arrived at the beautiful land they called “Promised Land of the Saints.” They explored until they came to a great river that divided the land. The journey of Brendan and his fellow monks took seven years. The return trip was probably the longest part of the odyssey.
In 1976, Tim Severin, a British navigation scholar embarked from Brandon Creek on the Dingle peninsula in a carrach that he constructed using the details described by Brendan. His goal was to determine if the voyage of Brendan and his fellow monks was possible. They tanned ox-hides with oak bark, stretched them across the wood frame, sewed them with leather thread and smeared the hides with animal fat which would impart water resistance. Examination of nautical charts led Severin to believe that Brendan’s route would be governed by the prevailing winds that would take him across the northernmost part of the Atlantic. This would take him close to Iceland and Greenland with a probable landfall at Newfoundland (St. Brendan’s Isle). This would be the route that Leif Erickson would have taken in the tenth century. Many of Brendan’s stops on his journey were islands where Irish monks had set up primitive monasteries. Norsemen that traveled on these waters visited these islands and recorded their meeting with “Papers” (fathers).
Severin and his crew were surprised at how friendly the whales were that they encountered. The whales swam around and even under their boat. It could have been recognized as another whale by the giant mammals. The whales could have been even friendlier in Brendan’s time, before motorized ships would make them leery of man. So friendly that they may have lifted the monk’s boat in a playful gesture.
After stopping at the Hebrides islands Severin proceeded to the Danish Faroe Islands. At the island of Mykines, they encountered thousands of seabirds. Brendan called this island “The Paradise of Birds.” He referred to the larger island as the “Island of Sheep.” The word Faroe itself means Island of Sheep. There is also a Brandon Creek on the main island of the Faroes, that the local people believe was the embarkation point for Brendan and his crew.
Severin’s route carried them to Iceland where they wintered, as did Brendan. The volcanoes on the island have been active for many centuries and might well have been erupting when the monks stayed there. This could have accounted for the “pelting with flaming, foul smelling rocks”, referred to in the ninth century text. The monks had never seen icebergs before, so their description of them as “towering crystals” would make sense.
Severin’s boat was punctured by floating ice off the coast of Canada. They were able make a repair with a piece of leather sewn over the hole. They landed on the island of Newfoundland on June 26, 1977. This might well have been Brendan’s “Land promised to the Saints” referred to in the Navigatio.
Severin’s journey did not prove that Brendan and his monks landed on North America. However it did prove that a leather currach as described in the Navigatio could have made such a voyage as mapped out in the text. There is also no doubt that the Irish were frequent seafarers of the North Atlantic sea currents 900 years before the voyage of Columbus.
More conclusive evidence of Irish exploration of North America has come to the fore in West Virginia. There, stone carvings have been discovered that have been dated between 500 and 1000 A.D. Analysis by archaeologist Dr. Robert Pyle and a leading language expert Dr. Barry Fell indicate that they are written in Old Irish using the Ogham alphabet. According to Dr. Fell, the “West Virginia Ogham texts are the oldest Ogham inscriptions from anywhere in the world. They exhibit the grammar and vocabulary of Old Irish in a manner previously unknown in such early rock-cut inscriptions in any Celtic language.” Dr. Fell goes on to speculate that, “It seems possible that the scribes that cut the West Virginia inscriptions may have been Irish missionaries in the wake of Brendan’s voyage, for these inscriptions are Christian. The early Christian symbols of piety, such as the various Chi-Rho monograms (Name of Christ) and the Dextra Dei (Right Hand of God) appear at the sites together with the Ogham texts.”
The lack of any written account of this exploration could be explained by the explorers not being able to return to their homeland. If they indeed did reach what is now West Virginia, it would be extremely doubtful that they could manage to return to Ireland from a embarkation point that far south. The design of their currach required favorable winds and currents in the right direction in order to navigate. Severin discovered that it was extremely difficult to tack as other sailing ships were able to do. Perhaps that is the reason that it took Brendan seven years for his journey.
We can conclude that the voyage of St.Brendan was not a mere medieval fantasy but a highly plausible tale. These were special men. They sought the lands beyond the horizon, the wondrous realms to be revealed by God—the Promised Lands.