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
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
  • Douai, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 836
    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 context: Magnum Legendarium Austriacum
  • London, British Library, MS Cotton Tiberius D iii [s. xiiex / s. xiiiin]
    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
  • 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 ClonfertBrénainn of Clonfert
(d. 577)
Brénainn mac Findloga
Brénainn (Brenden; Brendan) mac Findloga, early Connacht saint, patron of Clonfert, and legendary voyager
See more







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.] O'Meara, John J., and Jonathan M. Wooding, “The Latin version”, in: Barron, W. R. J., 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.] O'Meara, 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, Penguin Classics, 4th ed. (1965), 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. 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: September 2022