Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Friday, December 03, 2004

St. Brendan and the Big Skull

Brendan and his monks find the head of a dead man by the seashore. The head is very large, its forehead measuring five feet across. At Brendan’s request, the giant tells him that he was a heathen, who for his own profit waded through the sea. He was big and strong, and stood a hundred feet tall. He waylaid sailors and took their goods. For all his outsize proportions he was drowned in a flood. Brendan offers to resucitate and baptize him, so as to give him the possibility of obtaining remission for his sins and afterwards going to paradise. The giant refuses because he is afraid he will not be able to resist the temptation of sin. This would be worse, for, as he says, baptized souls are tormented much worse in hell than heathens are. Besides, he has a terrible fear of dying once again. He wants to go back to his torments in the darkness. He takes his leave, with Brendan’s good wishes. Brendan departs in his ship.

-- from Clara Strijbosch, “The Heathen Giant in The Voyage of St. Brendan”


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