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Saint Brendan’s Island (Medieval lore)

Saint Brendan’s Island, also known as Saint Brendan’s Isle, is a phantom island or mythical island, supposedly situated in the North Atlantic somewhere west of Northern Africa. It is named after Saint Brendan of Clonfert. He and his followers are said to have discovered it while travelling across the ocean and evangelising its islands. It appeared on numerous maps in Christopher Columbus’s time, most notably Martin Behaim’s Erdapfel of 1492. It is known as La isla de San Borondón and isla de Samborombón in

Source: Saint Brendan’s Island – Wikipedia


Ebstorf Map (Medieval cartography)


Production of Portolan chart (Renaissance cartography)


  1. Tim B.

    “This island is named after Saint Brendan, who claimed to have landed on it in AD 512 with 14 monks, with whom he celebrated a Mass. The monastic party reported its stay as 15 days, while the ships that expected their return complained that they had to wait a year, during which period the island remained concealed behind a thick curtain of mist.

    In his Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis, the monk Barino mentioned having visited this same “Paradise” in the Atlantic, it being a thickly wooded, mountainous island where the sun never set and it was always day, where the flora were abundant, the trees bore rich fruit, the rivers ran with fresh water, and the birds sang sweetly in the trees. “

  2. Tim B.

    “In 1719, the Scottish monk Sigbert de Gembloux reported seeing the island, as did Don Matea Dacesta, mayor of Valverde, El Hierro in 1721. As a result of these sightings, that same year Juan de Mur y Aguerre, military governor of the Canary Islands, appointed a new commission of inquiry under Gaspar Dominguez, a sea captain; no fresh evidence was uncovered and subsequently interest waned. According to the Canary historian Ramirez, in 1723 a priest performed the rite of exorcism towards the island during one of its apparitions behind a low cloud. This was witnessed by a large number of persons and sworn to on affidavit.[citation needed]”

  3. Tim B.

    “It is the earliest known map to depict the mythical island of St Brendan’s Isle,[4] which then appeared on many other maps including Martin Behaim’s Erdapfel of 1492. “

  4. Tim B.

    “The Navigatio was known widely in Europe throughout the Middle Ages.[21] Maps of Christopher Columbus’ time often included an island denominated Saint Brendan’s Isle that was placed in the western Atlantic Ocean. Paul Chapman argues that Christopher Columbus learned from the Navigatio that the currents and winds would favor westbound travel by a southerly route from the Canary Islands, and eastbound on the return trip by a more northerly route, and hence followed this itinerary on all of his voyages.[22]”

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