Navigatio sancti Brendani abbatis ‘The voyage of St Brendan, abbot’

  • Latin
  • prose

Latin narrative text about St Brendan (Lat. Brendanus > O.Ir. Bréndan), abbot of Clonfert, and his marvellous voyages across the ocean in search of the Land of Promise. The text enjoyed immense popularity on the Continent, where it was frequently copied and inspired the creation of new texts. BHL 1436-1438.


There are over 140 extant copies of the text, from the 10th century onwards. These include:

10th century
A catalogue of Regensburg, St. Emmeram, dated to 994 lists a liber Brendani, presumably now lost, which probably contained the Navigatio.
ff. 168v–240v
Copy sometimes marred by errors.
Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, MS Clm 18525b
f. 1r
Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Laud Misc. 410 ff. 1-76
ff. 40v–68r
10th/11th century
Hamburg, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek, MS Theol. 1727
pp. 545–598
11th century
Ghent, University Library, MS 401
ff. 1r–21v
Alençon, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 14 ff. 1-11
Epinal, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 147 ff. 8-188
ff. 82v–95v
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 3784 ff. 103-130
ff. 103r–108v
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 5572 ff. 106-132
ff. 112v–132v
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS nouv. acq. lat. 1606
ff. 20v–39v
Saint-Omer, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 71
ff. 101v–113v
Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Vat. lat. 13395
ff. 83r–84v
Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, MS 563 ff. 59-112
ff. 59v–112r
11th/12th century
Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Reg. lat. 481 ff. 28-55
ff. 28r–42v
Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, MS Clm 29890 B3
Trier, Bistumsarchiv, MS Abt. 95, 133c
ff. 102r–118r
12th century
Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, MS Conv. soppr. I.2.37
ff. 92v–156v
Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, MS I 61 inf
ff. 203v–205r
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 4887
ff. 80vb–88vb
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 12597
ff. 157r–171v
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 15076 ff. 88-102
ff. 88r–101v
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS nouv. acq. lat. 2381 5
f. 21r–21v
Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Pal. lat. 217
ff. 54r–86v
Bern, Burgerbibliothek, MS 111
ff. 1r–12v
Cambrai, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 830
ff. 59r–75r
Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, MS Clm 17139
ff. 169r–174v
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 2444
ff. 51r–67r
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 5371 ff. 1-54
ff. 23v–35r
Paris, Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, MS 943 ff. 1-78
ff. 1r–18r
Pommersfelden, Gräflich Schönbornsche Bibliothek, MS 51 ff. 1-60
ff. 14v–58v
Rouen, Bibliothèque municipale, MS A 474
ff. 168r–188r
Rouen, Bibliothèque municipale, MS U 102
ff. 178r–178v, 178v–194v, 194v–195r
Stuttgart, Württembergische Landesbibliothek, MS Hist. 4° 155
ff. 27r–42v
Stuttgart, Württembergische Landesbibliothek, MS Theol. et phil. 8° 57
ff. 90r–135r
Troyes, Bibliothèque municipale, MS Fonds ancien 1712 ff. 109-134
ff. 109r–134v
ff. 32r–41r, 41r–41v
Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, MS Clm 22248
ff. 70v–90r
Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Laud Misc. 237 ff. 229-249
ff. 229v–244r
Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, MS 477
ff. 148r–161v
12th/13th century
Heiligenkreuz, Stiftsbibliothek, MS 14
ff. 142v–150v
ff. 107r–118r
London, British Library, MS Harley 3958 ff. 1-123
ff. 103v–121v
Madrid, Real Academia de la Historia, MS Códices 10 ff. 1r-6v
ff. 1r–6v
Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, MS Clm 2607
ff. 1r–15v
Oxford, Lincoln College, MS lat. 27 ff. 181-207
ff. 87v–206r
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 5348
ff. 10r–25v
Irish manuscripts
ff. 14r–15v
ff. 139v–141r
  • Latin
Between the early eighth and late ninth centuries.
prose (primary)
Textual relationships
Related: Le voyage de saint BrendanLe voyage de saint BrendanOratio sancti BrendaniOratio sancti Brendani

Medieval Latin litany or lorica, with a preface which attributes its composition to Brendan, abbot of Clonfert. It is preserved in manuscripts from the 11th century onward. Its date of composition is unknown.



Brénainn of Clonfert
Brénainn of Clonfert
(d. 577)
Brénainn (Brenden; Brendan) mac Findloga, early Connacht saint, patron of Clonfert, and legendary voyager

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Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

[ed.] [tr.] Orlandi, Giovanni, and Rossana E. Guglielmetti, Navigatio sancti Brendani: alla scoperta dei segreti meravigliosi del mondo, Per Verba. Testi mediolatini con traduzione, 30, Florence: Edizioni del Galluzzo per la Fondazione Ezio Franceschini, 2014.
Edition and facing translation into Italian (1-111), commentary (113-184), with introduction (xi-ccl) and bibliography (cclii-ccc).
[ed.] Selmer, Carl, Navigatio sancti Brendani abbatis from early Latin manuscripts, Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1959.
Based on a selection of 18 manuscripts.
[ed.] Monte Cassino Abbey (ed.), Bibliotheca Casinensis seu codicum manuscriptorum qui in tabulario Casinensi asservantur, 5 vols, vol. 3, Monte Cassino, 1877.
– Google Books: <link>
411–427 Transcript from Monte Cassino, Archivio e Biblioteca dell’Abbazia, MS 152.
[ed.] Schröder, Carl, Sanct Brandan: ein lateiniseher und drei deutsche Texte, Erlangen: Eduard Besold, 1871.
1–36 Text based on Leipzig, Pauliner Bibliothek, MS 844.
[ed.] Moran, Patrick F., Acta sancti Brendani: original Latin documents connected with the life of Saint Brendan, Dublin: William Bernard Kelly, 1872.
Internet Archive – originally from Google Books: <link>
85–131 Text based on that of Jubinal but collated with other copies.
[ed.] Jubinal, Achille, La légende latine de S. Brandaines: avec une traduction inédite en prose et en poésie romanes, Paris: Techener, 1836.
Internet Archive – originally from Google Books: <link>
[tr.] OʼMeara, John J., and Jonathan M. Wooding, “The Latin version”, in: W. R. J. Barron, and Glyn S. Burgess (eds), The voyage of Saint Brendan: representative versions of the legend in English translation, Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2002. 13–64.
[tr.] OʼMeara, John J., The voyage of Saint Brendan, journey to the promised land: Navigatio sancti Brendani abbatis, Dublin, Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Dolmen Press, Humanities Press, 1976.
[tr.] Webb, J. F., and David Hugh Farmer, The age of Bede, 4th ed., Penguin Classics, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, New York: Penguin Books, 1998.  
First published in 1965; reprinted with revisions and new introduction and notes by D. H. Farmer in 1983; reprinted with further revisions in 1988 and again in 1998. This edition contains the three translations by J. F. Webb (Bede: Life of Cuthbert; Eddius Stephanus: Life of Wilfrid; The voyage of St Brendan) as well as two by D. H. Farmer (Bede: Lives of the abbots of Wearmouth and Jarrow; The anonymous history of Ceolfrith).

Secondary sources (select)

MIRABILE, Online: Studio del Medioevo Latino, 2009–present. URL: <http://www.mirabileweb.it>. 
MIRABILE è un knowledge management system per lo studio e la ricerca sulla cultura medievale promosso dalla Società Internazionale per lo Studio del Medioevo Latino e dalla Fondazione Ezio Franceschini ONLUS di Firenze.
C. A., Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
February 2018, last updated: June 2023