Canada and a 6th Century Monk

This is super cool–another Canada Day post for intelligent readers. And another great post from writer, L.A. Smith. I have been fascinated with St. Brendan since I read Frederick Buechner‘s stunning little book, Brendan. I am his namesake, after all (sort of, maybe). Read this post and you will discover which Europeans were the first to really find their way to Canada.

the traveller's path

In honour of Canada Day, I thought it might be fun to share with you one of my favourite stories from the Britain’s Early Middle Ages; that of the 6th century monk known as Brendan the Voyager. This story has a Canadian connection because it has been speculated that Brendan and some fellow monks, not the Vikings, were the first Europeans to set foot on North America, specifically Newfoundland.

Some 50 years after St. Patrick died in 461 A.D., Brendan and other Irish monks continued Patrick’s work of converting the pagan Irish Celts to Christianity. Brendan was born in 484 A.D. in County Karee in the south-west of Ireland, and was ordained as a priest at the age of 28. He frequently sailed the seas to bring the gospel to not only Ireland but also Scotland, Wales, and Brittany, the Gaulish outpost in the north of present-day France.

This method of travel…

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About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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5 Responses to Canada and a 6th Century Monk

  1. Thanks for sharing, Brenton. I just shared this St. Brendon story myself in honor of Canada Day from a Yank, and decided to follow your friend’s blog. 🙂


  2. Jared Lobdell says:

    Appropriate since the Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis is one of the inspirations/sources for The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader”


    • Jared, thanks for this. I missed it last week. I appreciated your Ransom work for its unusual links to the past.
      Have you read Kris Swank’s work, was it in Mythlore? She found Irish connections behind Tolkien’s Roverdam.


  3. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Excellent – thanks first to L.A. Smith, and to you for bringing this to our attention! This is a good nudge to getting me to scoot Tim Severin’s The Brendan Voyage (1978) up to near the top of my ‘what should I read next’ list! (I had already had a nudge, from noticing John Garth’s link at his site to his 2014 interview with Tim Severin.) Another nice Inklings tie-in is Tolkien’s (poetic) attention to St. Brendan, in a poem published in 1955, which Christopher revealed more about in connection with ‘The Notion Club Papers’ in The History of Middle-earth, volume IX, Sauron Defeated (1992).


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