Book Series Mediaeval Sources in Translation, vol. 62

The Life of St Brendan and His Prayer

Translated with an introduction and notes by Gordon Barthos

  • Pages: xii + 134 p.
  • Size:152 x 229 mm
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2024

  • ISBN: 978-0-88844-312-0
  • Paperback
  • Available


Gordon Barthos is an independent Canadian scholar and researcher in mediaeval studies, based in Toronto. His fields of interest include Irish hagiography and loricae, and techniques of composition in vernacular prose and poetry. At Oxford University, Balliol College, where he earned an M.Phil. in English medieval studies 1100–1500, he read Chaucer, Malory, Old French chivalric literature, and Latin medieval philosophy. At l’Université de Montréal, Loyola College, he was awarded the Governor-General’s gold medal for academic excellence in the humanities on completion of his B.A. in literature. As a journalist and commentator with The Toronto Star, Canada’s most widely read newspaper, he held senior positions including national editor, political columnist, and editorialist, and earned a National Newspaper Award nomination for his coverage of foreign affairs.


Founder of monasteries, navigator of fantastic voyages, wonder-working intercessor and confessor, Saint Brendan of Clonfert and Ardfert (c. 486–578) was among the most colourful and celebrated figures of medieval Ireland. This complete translation of the Vita Sancti Brendani (from Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Rawlinson B 485, a version which incorporates the Navigatio), and of the Oratio attributed to him, offers the first full portrait in English of Brendan not only as the saintly hero of the popular Navigatio but also as an emblem of the Gaelic people, their struggles and their aspirations over the long arc of Irish history.


Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Rawlinson B 485, fol. 72v
Sites associated with St Brendan of Clonfert and Ardfert

The Historical Evidence
Manuscript Sources for the Vita
The Vita Sancti Brendani
The Oratio Sancti Brendani
A Note on the Translation

The Life of St Brendan

Brendan’s Prayer

Appendix one
The Judas Episode in the Navigatio 
Appendix two
Other Versions of Brendan’s Life, Latin and Irish
Appendix three
Saint of the Gaelic West

Index of Manuscripts
General Index