St. Brendan, nicknamed the Navigator, was an Irish abbot of the 500s who became the hero of legendary ocean voyages and the patron saint of seafarers. An eager traveler, Brendan journeyed to various lands bordering on the Atlantic Ocean. Some 400 years later, his travels were made famous in the Navigatio Sancti Brendani (Voyage of St. Brendan), a fictionalized work that became one of the most popular books of the time.
abbot head of a monastery or abbey
patron special guardian, protector, or supporter
In the Navigatio, Brendan and a group of monks make an amazing trip in search of the "Promised Land of the Saints." According to the story the monks wander the ocean for years, stopping at different islands and experiencing various adventures. Eventually, they reach their goal. Many of the islands described in the Navigatio appear to be based on real islands. Moreover, mapmakers for hundreds of years marked a St. Brendan's Island, to the west of Ireland, on their maps of the Atlantic. Many Spanish and Portuguese explorers went in search of this fictional island.