In honor of the 125th Anniversary of the arrival of the Carmelite Friars in New York City, the Province of St. Elias received a beautiful and unique pewter sculpture of St. Brendan the Navigator from the Provincial of the Irish Province, Very Rev. Martin Kilmurray, O.Carm. and our brothers in the Irish Province during a Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated in Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin on Monday, July 7, 2014.
Saint Brendan (c. 484 – c. 577) called “the Navigator”, “the Voyager”, or “the Bold” is one of the early Irish monastic saints. He was ordained as a priest in 512. During the next twenty years of his life, St. Brendan sailed all around the islands surrounding Ireland, spreading the word of God and founding monastery after monastery. The most notable of these is Clonfert in Galway, which he founded around 557 AD, and which lasted well into the 1600s.1
St. Brendan is chiefly renowned for his legendary journey to the Isle of the Blessed as described in the ninth century Voyage of St Brendan the Navigator. Many versions exist that tell of how he set out onto the Atlantic Ocean with sixteen pilgrims searching for the Garden of Eden.2 Traditions abound that St. Brendan even arrived on the shores of North America long before any other European explorers!
We are grateful to our Irish brothers for this beautiful gift which is on display in our Provincial Offices in Middletown, New York. It will be a lasting reminder, inspired by the story of St. Brendan, of the courage and faith of our Irish Carmelite brothers who arrived in New York on March 29, 1889 to begin what became the St. Elias Province.
1 “Saint Brendan the Navigator”, Saint Silouan Orthodox Church
2 “St. Brendan History”, St. Brendan the Navigator