Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Chalice of the Third Communion

One day, on which three Masses had been said, they saw a column in the sea, which seemed not far off, yet they could not reach it for three days. When they drew near it St Brendan looked towards its summit, but could not see it, because of its great height. which seemed to pierce the skies. It was covered over with rarecanopy, the material of which they knew not; but it had the colour of silver and was hard as marble, while the column itself was of the clearest crystal.

St Brendan ordered the brethren to take in their oars, and to lower the sails and mast, and directed some of them to hold onto the fringes of the canopy, which extended about a mile from the column, and about the same depth into the sea. When this had been done, St Brendan said, ‘Run in the boat now through an opening, that we may get a closer view of the wonderful works of God.'. And when they had passed through the opening, and looked around them, the sea seemed to transparent like glass, so that they could plainly see everything beneath them, even the base of the column, and the skirts of the canopy lying on the ground, for the sun shone as brightly within as without.

St Brendan measured an opening between four pavilions, which he found to be four cubits on every side. When they had sailed along for all day by one side of the column, they could always feel the shade as well as the heat of the sun, beyond the ninth hour; and after thus sailing about the column for four days, they found the measurement of each side to be four hundred (?) cubits. On the fourth day, they discovered on the south side, a chalice of the same material as the canopy and a patella like that of the column, which St Brendan at once took up, saying: the Lord Jesus Christ has displayed to us this great marvel, and has given to us two gifts therefrom, in testimony of the fact to others the holy father then directed the brethren to perform the divine office, and afterwards. to take refreshment.; for they had taken none since they came in sight of the column. Next day they rowed towards the north, and having passed out through an opening, they set up the mast, and unfurled the sails again, while some of them held on by the fringes, or skirts of the canopy, until all was right in the boat. When they had set sail, a favourable wind came on in the rear, so that they had on occasion to use the oars, out only to hold the ropes and the tiller. And thus for eight days were they borne along towards the north.

-- The Voyage of St. Brendan, transl. Denis O’Donoghue (1893)


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