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This Day in History

World History

Friday, May 16, 0583. :   Today is the feast day of Brendan the Navigator, one of the early Irish monastic saints.

     Brendan the Navigator was born in Ciarraight Luachra, in County Kerry, Ireland, in 484 AD. He was baptised at Tubrid, near Ardfert, by Bishop Erc. As he grew to manhood, he continued to study under Erc, and was ordained a priest in 512. Between the years 512 and 530 St. Brendan built monastic cells at Ardfert, and, at the foot of Brandon Hill, Shanakeel— Seana Cill, usually translated as "the old church"— also called Baalynevinoorach . From here, he set out on his famous seven years voyage for the Land of Delight, or the Garden of Eden.

There is some speculation that during this epic voyage, Brendan reached the Americas; if this is the case, he was one of the first European visitors to the New World, preceding Christopher Columbus by at least nine centuries. Columbus relied on the legends told of St Brendan as part of his argument that it was indeed possible to travel to Asia by crossing the Atlantic.

May 16 is celebrated as the feast day of Brendan the Navigator. Though his exact date of death is unknown, the traditional date of his death is regarded as 16 May 583.

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