Good morning hagiophiles and welcome to Friday, as too more saints from from the hotbeds of the early Anglo-Irish church go head to head. The Saintly Sixteen is fast filling up.
But first, we bind a fond adieu to Cuthman of Steyning, and wish him and his mum well. The wise and learned Leoba goes on to face either Maximus the Confessor or Martin de Porres, the patron saint of fabric cutters (esoteric joke there).
I’ve always had a soft spot for Irish saints in Lent Madness, and still carry a wound in my heart for how St. Gobnait the Holy Beekeeper of County Kerry lost out in a previous year.
So another native of Kerry, Brendan, that mad seafaring, exploring Irish holy man and his intrepid crew of monks, deserves our respect and admiration just for his seafaring. According to one medieval account, The Voyages of Brendan the Abbot, he was in his seventies when he made his longest journey, he and his companions in a curragh, a wooden framed boat covered with oxhides. I doubt any Diocesan insurance policy would support such a venture today!
It always amazes me that so many Christians in the dark ages set off in wee boats with only rudimentary navigation and a strong trust in the Lord. Small wonder that the nave, the main part of the church, was originally called navis, Latin for boat.
Brendan may have bitten off a voyage too far going up against St. David. While there’s a good reason that he’s not the patron saint of church summer camps (his rule of life for his monks was rather harsh), David is of course famous as the patron saint of Wales. For centuries his feast day was a secret known only to the Welsh, until someone leeked it. OK, that was a terrible joke, and also unkind to daffodils, which are also associated with David.
Of the many legends around his birth, my favourite is that he was baptized by a blind monk, but when water from the font splashed onto his eyes, the monk was given his sight. Hats off to David’s parents, who entrusted their infant son to a blind monk to hold.
So an interesting matchup, as these two Celtic Tiger Monks go head to head. If I had to put money on this, which would be a minor sin, I’d go for David by a small margin, but my wannabe Irish heart is with Brendan.
Blessed be their memories.
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