Another episode from The Clarkives

Duty. Honor, Loyalty.

Notre Dame and the Navy have played 95 times since first meeting in 1927 and this year will mark the third time they play in Dublin. In 1996 and 2012 the two squared off before huge crowds on the “Emerald Isle”.

Tradition is what makes the Notre Dame-Navy series special. 

You know the stories, and you know that ND has deep connections to Ireland.

I’d like to tell you about one tradition that connects the Navy to Ireland.

The United States Navy has a longstanding tradition of honoring patron saints who embody the values and virtues of the naval service. One such patron saint is St. Brendan the Navigator, an Irish monk who lived in the 6th century and is celebrated for his seafaring exploits and missionary work.

St. Brendan, also known as Brendan of Clonfert, was born in County Kerry, Ireland, in the year 484. He entered the monastic life at a young age and eventually became the abbot of a monastery in Clonfert. However, it was his love of the sea and his adventurous spirit that earned him the nickname “the Navigator.”

According to legend, St. Brendan embarked on a voyage at the age of 80 with a group of fellow monks in search of the “Isle of the Blessed,” a mythical land believed to be the home of the saints.

Their vessel, it was said, was a hull of nothing more than 49 oxhides stitched together to form a patchwork quilt and stretched over a wooden frame.

The journey, which lasted seven years, took the voyagers to various islands, encountering sea monsters and other challenges along the way.

It is also believed that St. Brendan and his crew reached North America.  The claim is more than a fairy tale as texts written in Latin around 800 AD support the claim.

These writings influenced Columbus and, if true, would have St. Brendan visiting North America 1,000 years before Columbus or the Vikings.

St. Brendan’s seafaring exploits have made him a fitting patron saint for the United States Navy, which values courage, adventure, and exploration. Additionally, his missionary work and commitment to spreading the gospel align with the Navy’s emphasis on service and duty.

This past week, the Navy honored St. Brendan with a feast day on May 16th, the anniversary of his death. On the day, sailors and other naval personnel remember the saint’s legacy and strive to embody his virtues in their own lives and service.

St. Brendan’s legacy also extends beyond the Navy. He is revered as a patron saint of sailors, travelers, and adventurers, and his story continues to inspire people around the world to embark on their own journeys of exploration and faith.

If you would like to learn more about St. Brendan and embark on a unique journey, then join me in walking in his footsteps next year on the “Kerry Camino” – by enrolling in my extreme leadership program.

Contact me if you are interested –

For more on Ireland and the city of Dublin, download Len Clark’s Irish Illustrated Guide to Discovering Dublin here.

For more on why Notre Dame is so closely identified with the country of Ireland, read How the Fighting Irish Got Their Name .

ByLen Clark Ph.D.

Len Clark Ph.D. of Irish 101, a veteran journalist and noted expert on cutting edge media technologies. Len continues to serve as a frequent consultant and occasional contributor to FIP.

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