Latin Navigatio, an English synopsis based on MS. Alençon
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Then one day they had celebrated their Masses, a pillar in the sea appeared to them, which seemed to be not far distance, but it took them three days to draw near to it. When the man of God approached it he tried to look up the top of it, but he could hardly see it on account of its height. The pillar was higher than the sky. Moreover the pillar was wrapped with a wide-meshed net, whose mesh was so wide that the boat could pass right through its openings. They did not know the substance the net was made of. It had the colour of silver, and it looked harder then marble. The pillar itself was of very bright crystal(60). Saint Brendan said to his brothers: 'Ship the oars and take down the mast and the sail, while some of you hold the meshes of the net.'
There was a vast space between the column and the lattice-work net, about one mile on all sides from the column, and likewise the net went down a similar distance into the depth. When they had done these instructions, the mans of God told them: 'Steer the boat in through one of the openings so that we can have a close look at the wonders of our Creator.' When they had gone in and looked around here and there, the sea looked as clear as glass due to its clarity, so they could see everything was underneath, for they could observe the foundations of the pillar and also the end of the net similarly extending dwon onto the sea bed. The sunlight was as bright below as above the water. Then Saint Brendan measured an opening through the net: it was square-shaped, and four cubits on every side.
Then they sailed the whole day skirting along one side of the pillar and in its shadow they could still feel the heat of the sun. Thus they satyed there until the ninth hour(=three o'clock in the afternoon). The man of God measured one side, namely of 1400 cubits; the measurement was identical for each of the four sides of this column. Thus for four days the venerable father was engaged around the four sides of the column.
Now, on the fourth day, they discovered a chalice of the same material of the net, and a paten of the same colour of the pillar, rested on the window in the side of the column facing the south. Immediately Saint Brendan took hold these vessels, saying: 'Our lord Jesus Christ shows this miracle, so that several so that it be manifested in order that they may believe in it, He gave me these two gifts.' He ordered his brothers to perform the divine office, and then refresh their bodies, for they had had no spare time when they eat or drink since they had seen the pillar.
Then the brothers began to sail toward the north. As they passed through an opening of the net, they hoisted the mast and sails, while others held the meshes of the net until all was made ready on the boat. Once the mast raised and sails spread, a favouring wind began to blow behind them so there is nothing they needed to row but only hold the ropes and the rudder.
Thus they were carried along eight days. Then they caught sight of an island not far away, entirely red, rocky and full of slag, without tree nor grass, covered with blacksmiths' forges. The venerable father said to his brothers: 'I am troubled about this island, so I do not want to go on it or even to come near to it. But the wind is pushing us directly there.'
While they were passing along it from no more than a stone's throw, they heard the hiss of bellows blowing, producing the great noise that sounded like thunder, and that of iron mallets. At these sounds, the venerable father armed himself with the sign of the victory of the Lord (in all four directions), saying: 'Lord Jesus Christ, deliver us from that island.'
When the man of the God had finished his prayer, now one of the inhabitants emerged outside, as if doing something or other. He was entirely hairy, gigantic and dark. When he noticed the servants of Christ passing near the island, he went back into his forge. The man of God blessed himself again, said to his brothers: 'Sons, raise the sails higher and row as fast as you can and let us free of this island.'
No sooner had he said this than the same savage came to the facing shore, carrying in his hands a tongs gripping a lump pulled out of the rock, great size and heat. Immediately he hurled the slag at the servants of Christ, but it did not harm them. It flew past above them about two hundred yards. Then the sea, where it fell, began to boil as if a volcano were erupting there, and a smoke rose from the sea like a fiery oven.
Then as the man of God had got about a mile from the spot where the lump fell, all the islanders ran to the shore each of them carrying masses of each own. They threw the lumps after another at the servants of Christ into the sea, all the while going back to their forges and setting the lumps on fire. The whole island appeared ablaze as if one great furnace. And the sea boiled like a cauldron full of meat boils when put on fire. All day long they heard the great hawling from the island. Even when they could no longer see it, the shrieks of its denizens still reached their ears, no less than the strong stench to their nostrils. Then the holy father comforted the monks, saying; 'Soldiers of Christ, fortify the true faith unfeigned, and in spiritual weapons, for we are in the confines of Hell. Be on the watch and be brave.'
On the follwing day, there appeared to them, a high mountain on the ocean through the light cloud, not far away towards the north. Its peak was completely covered with smoke. Immediately the wind quickly drew them to the shore of this island, until the boat stopped just off the land. For the shore was so high that they hardly see the summit. It was a colour of coal and extraordinarily greatness, rising sheer like a wall. The remaing one of the three brothers who followed Saint Brendan from the monastery, impelled out of the boat and began to walk upto the base of the cliff, and then yelled: 'Alas for me, I am lost and am powerless to come back to you.' The brothers immediately drove the boat away from the cliffs and shouted, saying: 'Have mercy upon us, Lord, have mercy uopn us.' Then the venerable father and his companions were watching how the unhappy man was taken by a multitude of demons to be tormented, and how he was set on fire among them, and Saint Brendan said :'Alas for you, son, since you have received such fate deserved for your life.'
Again a favouring wind took them in a southery direction. But as they watched the island moving away behind them, they saw the mountain without a veil of smoke and spouting flames up to the ether, and again swallowing these flames, so that the whole mountain right down to the sea, looked like one pyre.
And then Saint Brendan sailed towards the south, appeared to them in the sea an outline, loike that of a man sitting on a stone, and appeared to them a canvas far in front of him, of a size about a topcoat, hanging between two small iron forks, and thus the object was shaken by the waves just like a boat in a whirlwind. Some of the brothers said it was a bird, others a ship. When the man of God had heard them discussing among themselves, he exclaimed: 'Stop arguing. Steer the boat to the spot.'
When the man of God drew near, the waves, as if frozen around the rock, in a circle. And they discovered a man sit on a rock, shaggy and deformed. The waves, rushing from every side, struck him up to the nape of the neck, and when they discovered it, appeared this bare rock, on which the unfortunate one was sat. The rag, which was hanging in front of him, sometimes hit it to the eyes and to the forehead. The blessed Brendan came closer to ask him who he was, for which fault condemned him to be sent here, and what reason forced to endure so much penance. He replied: 'I am very unhappy Judas, the most evil trador ever. I am not here on account of my deserts but because of the ineffable mercy of Jesus Christ.'
For me this is not a place of torment but rather an indulgence of the Redeemer in honour of the Resurrection.The day was indeed the Lord's day. 'When I am sitting here I feel as if I were in the gardens of delights compared with my fear of the agonies which lie before me this evening, for I burn like molten lead in a crucible day and night in the centre of the mountain you have seen. Leviathan and his attendants are there. I was there when he swallowed your brother, and hell was so joyful that it spat out immense flames, as it alway sdoes when he consumes the souls of the wicked. But I have my respite here every Sunday, from the evening to evening, and of the Nativity of the Lord until Epiphany, and Easter up to Whitsunday, and the day of the Purification and assumption of the mother of God. After and before these feasts I am tortured among Heros and Pilato, Annas and Caiphas. And so I beseech you by the Redeemer of the world, to be good enough to intercede with the Lord Jesus Christ, in order that I can stay here until the birth of the sun tomorrow, so that the demons, during your visit, do not torture me and do not bring me to the bad inheritance which I prepared for bad silver".
Saint Brendan replied: 'May May the Lord's will be done! Tonight untill the morning you will not be eaten by demons until the morning.' Again the man of God questioned him, saying: 'What is the meaning of this rag?' He replied: 'I gave this cloth to a leper when I was in the service of the Lord. But it was not mine that I gave. It belonged to the Lord and his brothers. And so it gives me no relief but rather a discomfort. The metal forks on which the rag hangs are the one I gave to the priests of the temple for hanging their cauldrons. With the rock on which I sit, I put it on the rut of a public highway, under the feet of those that passed it, before being disciple of the Lord". But as the evening darkened the ocean, an innumerable multitude of daemons covered the face of the deep in a circle, shouting and saying: 'Go away from us, man of God, because we cannot come near our companion, as long as you do not move away from him.' We did not dare to see the face of our prince, until we returned to him his friend. You have taken away from us our tidbit(61). Do not protect hin tonight!' The man of God said to them: 'I do not protect him but the Lord Jesus Christ allowed him to stay here this night untill dawn.' The daemons siad to him: 'How can you invoke the name of God over him, who betrayed the Lord?' The man of God said to them: 'I order you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you do him no evil untill morning.'
Therefore when that night was over and the man of God begun to set out, an infinite number of daemons covered the surface of the deep, emitting hideous yells and saying: 'Man of God, we curse your both coming and going, since our prince whipped us severely because we could not bring him this accursed captive.' The man of God said to them: 'Your curse merely falls upon yourselves, not upon us, for the one you curse is blessed, the one you bless is cursed.'
The daemons answered him; 'Unhappy Judas will suffer double punishment for the next six days because you have defended during the night.' The venerable father said to them: 'You have no power over that nor your prince. This is the power of God.' Then he added: 'I order you in the name of our Lord Christ that you and your prince not scourge him with bigger torments than before.'
They replied to him: 'Are you the Lord of everything, so that we obey your words?'
The man of God said to them: 'I am his servant, and whatever I order I do so in his name. My investment is assigned from him on these matters.'
The daemons followed him to the point where they could no longer see Judas. Then the demons returned, lifted up the unfortunate soul among them with violent forces and screams.
Now Saint Brendan, with his fellow fighters, sailed facing the southern extent, glorifying the Lord in all. Then on the third day,
it appeared to them a small island far away to the south. When his brothers had begun to row earnestly and they had come near the island, Saint Brendan said: 'Man, brothers, do not tire your bodies overmuch. You already have enough toil. It is the seven years to the coming Easter since we left our fatherland. Now you will see Paul the spiritual Hermit, And however you will see Paul the spiritual Hermit, who has lived in this island without any bodily food for sixty years. For the previous thirty years he received his food from an animal.'
But, as they had got to the shore, they found access difficult, due the the height of the cliffs. The island was also extremely small and circular, with a diameter of approximately two hundred yards in circumference. There was no earth on it but only bare rocks similar to the one as seen. It was as long and broad as it was high. When, however, they had rowed around the island, they found a harbour so narrow that they found it difficult to put the prow of the craft, and they found the disembarkation too difficult because of the height of the rocks. Then Saint Brendan said to his brothers: 'Wait here until we return to you. You may not go enter this island without the permission of the man of God who lives in this spot.'
And when the venerable father had reached the summit of this island, he saw two caves, its entrance facing each other, on the eastern side of the island. Also he saw a minuscule spring round just like a shell gushing among the rocks, upon which the man of God lived. When Saint Brendan went up to the entrance of a cave, from the other threshold an elderly man came out to meet him and saying: 'Behold how good and joyful it is that the brothers live together in unity.(62)' With these words, he asked Saint Brendan to order all his brothers to come from the boat. He kissed each brother in the usual manner and called them by their own names. When the brothers heard it, they admired deeply both its gift of prophecy and its appearance: It was completely covered with hair, of beard and of all the others hairs, down to his feet --- all the hair was white as snow on account of his great age ---
they could see only his face and eyes. He wore no other clothing except for his own hairs growing from his body.
But when he saw this, he was saddened within himself and said: 'Alas for me, who wear the monk's habit, and under me gathered many people in the name of this order whereas we see here, a man in an angelic state untouched by the vices of the flesh, being in human flesh.'
The man of God said to him: 'O venerable father, how marvellous wonders god has showen to you that he did not revealed to any of the holy fathers! Then you say in your heart that you are not worthy to wear the monk's habit, but you are greater than a monk. For a monk uses the labour of his hands with which to clothe himself. But God, from his secrets, nourishes you you and your companions for seven years. As for me, poor am I sitting down as a bird on this rock, naked, covered only by my hair.'
Then Saint Brendan questioned him on his arrival, asking him where he came from and how long he has endured such a life here. The other answered to him: 'I was brought up in the monastery of Saint Patrick(63) for fifty years, where I looked after the cemetery of the brothers. But one day my superior had pointed to me the place to bury a deceased there, appeared to me an unknown elder and said: "Do not dig here brother, for this is the burail place for another." I said to him: "Father, who are you?" Then he answered me: "Why do you not recognise me? Am I not your abbot?" I said to him: "Saint Patrick is my abbot." He replied: "I am he. I died yesterday. This is the place of my burial. Make the grave requested by our brother here and tell no one what I have told you. But tomorrow go to the sea shore where you will find a boat. Embark in it and it will bring you to the place where you will await the day of your death."
'So in the morning, I went, in accordance with the command of the holy father, to the shore where I found a boat just as he had predicted.' When I climbed into it, I sailed for three days and three nights. After that I gave the boat up to the wind and go wherever the wind would drive it. Then on the seventh day this rock appeared, and immediately I landed on it and pushed the boat back with my foot so that it should turn round where from it came. Straightaway I saw it swiftly ploughing through the waves so as to go back to his fatherland. As for me I remained here. At about the ninth hour(three o'clock PM), an otter brought me a food of the sea, that is a fish in its jaws, and a small bundle of firewood of vine twigs to make a fire between its front legs, while walking on its hind legs. When it had put the meal and the kindling in front of me it returned back to where it came from. I took iron, struck flint, ignited the kindling and preparing a meal from this fish to refresh myself. Thus, during thirty years, every three days, this same servant brought this same food, namely a fish for three days. I ate a third of the fish each day. By God's grace I had no need to drink(64), but on Sundays a trickle of water came forth from this rock, which I could drink and with which fill my small flask to wash my hands. Then after thirty years I found these two caves and this source. From then on I lived, for sixty years since, upon this source and without taking other food. Therefore I have been ninety years on this island, for thirty years living on fish and for sixty on this spring. I had lived for fifty years in my fatherland. Thus the total of the years of my life one hundred forty. Here I have but to await in the flesh, for the day of judgment, as I have been predicted. Now go to your homeland and bring the flasks filled with the spring water with you, for you will need it indeed. You have to do this since you have a journey for forty days ahead of you, which will take you until the Holy Saturday. You will celebrate the Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday where you have celebrated them for last six years, and then, once received the blessing of your steward, set out for the Promised Land of the Saints. There you will remain for forty days and then The God of your fathers will lead you safely back to the land of your birth.'
Therefore Saint Brendan with his brothers, having received the blessing of the man of God, began to sail towards the south during forty whole days, and their craft was taken here and there, and their only food was the water which they had brought with them from the island of the man of God. They refreshed themselves from this single food, without suffering any hunger or thirst, all were joyful.
Then, as the man of god had predicted, they arrived at the island of the steward to the day on Holy Saturday. When they entered the harbour, he came running to meet them with a great joy, and lifted them all out of the boat with his own arms. When they had finished the divine office for the holy day, he offered a meal to them. when evening came, they embarked in the boat and the steward travelling with them.
And as they sailed, they quickly met the beast in his usual place, and there they sang praise to God for all through the night and Masses in the morning. When the Mass was completed, Jasconius began to go on his own way, all the brothers who accompanied Saint Brendan, began to call on the Lord, saying: 'Hear us, God, our Saviour, the hope of those who live in throughtout the boundaries of the remote parts of the earth and the ocean'(65).
Saint Brendan encouraged his brothers, saying: 'Do not be afraid, for you will suffer no evil, but (Jasconius) will be an assistance for our trip.'
The beast went in a straight course to the shore of the island of the birds. And there, they remained until the octave of Pentecost. When the days of solemnities were over, the steward, who was with them, said to Saint Brendan: 'Embark in the boat and fill the flasks with this spring water. This time I shall be the companion for your way as well as your guide. Without me, you will not be able to find the Promised Land of the Saints.' As they climbed into the boat, all the birds of this island said as it were with one voice: 'May The God of our salvation prosper your journey.'
Saint Brendan with his brothers sailed to the island of the steward, who was with them, and there they took food for forty days. Now their voyage was towards the east for forty days, and the steward himself stood ahead of them. Then the forty days had passed, evening dusk came upon them and emveloped them in a gloom so great that they could scarcely see one another. The steward asked Saint Brendan: 'Do you know what this darkness indicates?' 'What?' replied Saint Brendan. Then he said: 'This darkness encircles the island for which you have been looking for seven years.'
After a space of an hour an immense light surrounded them again, and the boat stopped on the shore. On disembarking from the boat, they saw a land of beautiful appearance, covered with apple trees laden heavily with the fruits(66)as in the autumn.
They picked not only apples but also drank from the sources. And thus, during forty days, they wandered around the whole land and could not discover the end of it. Then one day, they arrived at a large river bends down through the middle of the island(67). Then Saint Brendan turned to his brothers and said : 'We cannot cross this river and we and we do not know the greatness of this land.'
While they reflected upon those things within themselves, a young man met them and embraced them with great joy, calling each one by his name and said : 'Blessed are those who live in your home. In the ages they praise thee (68).' After these words, he said to Saint Brendan: 'Here is the land that you have sought for a long time.
Certainly it is not immediately that you could find it, because God wanted to show you his various secrets on the huge Ocean. Now, go back towards the earth of your birth, take with you fruits of this island, and precious stones as much as your craft can take it. Indeed the day of your fimal journey approaching, so that you may sleep with your fathers. After the passage of many years, this land will be revealed to your successors when the persecution of Christians shall occur. The river that you see divides this island. Just as you see the mature fruits, the land shall remain forever without any deathly shadow. For Christ is the light.' Then they gathered the fruits of this land and all kinds of precious stones. Having received the blessings from the steward and the young man, Saint Brendan with his brothers climbed into the boat and began to sail out through the middle of the darkness. When they had crossed it, they came to the island called Island of Delights. And then, for three days, they got full hospitality; once received a blessing, Saint Brendan returned to his place directly.
His brothers welcomed him back with great joy, glorifying God with such an amount of love, who did not want to remove them from seeing of their father, having been away from them for a long time. Then the blessed man thanking them for their love, told them everything that had happened on his journey and and recalled the many extraordinary signs of wonders, which the Lord had deigned to show him on the way. Finally, in a precise testimony he also indicated(69) according to the prediction of the young man, the speed of his death, and the Promised Land of the Saints. Thus the outcome confirmed his words, for after the arrangements he had made for after his death, after a short time interval, fortified by the divine sacraments, among the hands of his disciples he gloriously went to the Lord, to whom is honour and glory for ever and ever.
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