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Main > Portuguese folktales > Fairy tale "St. Brendan's Island"

St. Brendan's Island

There was once an Irish monk called St. Brendan. One day he received a visit from a hermit who told him of a most marvelous island.

"Come and visit this earthly Paradise," said the hermit. "There the sun always shines. The birds wear golden crowns upon their heads and speak like humans."

The perfume of the island clung to the garments of the hermit for forty days.

Good St. Brendan asked many questions about the mysterious island and at last resolved to visit it and see for himself if all the wonders of which he had heard were really true. Accordingly, he built a coracle of wattle covered with hides tanned in oak bark and softened with butter. He loaded it with provisions to last for forty days. Then he persuaded some of his disciples to accompany him. This was somewhat difficult for they were timid about embarking upon this dangerous expedition in the frail boat. St. Brendan, however, succeeded in overcoming their fears and set out with a little group of his most devoted followers.

It was seven years before they returned to their native land. They were even more enthusiastic about their wonderful island than the hermit had been. They urged others to go and find out its marvels but nobody else was ever able to locate it.

They say that the island of St. Brendan was a floating island in the Atlantic. Good St. Brendan did not die but kept on living in the earthly Paradise of his isle. When the Christians were hard pressed in their battles with the Moors and were about to be pushed back into the sea the island of St. Brendan appeared upon the horizon, and the good saint himself came to fight against the Moors and bring victory to the Christians.

In the middle of the fifteenth century there was a little maid called Maria who lived in the island of Terceira. She heard the story of St. Brendan's isle from a Franciscan brother. Day and night she dreamed of it. She often sat upon the hillside of Monte Brasil, looking eagerly out over the broad expanse of sea, hoping with all her heart that the island would appear to her.

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