Voyage of St Brendan f.11v
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
Religion and entertainment could merge in medieval saints lives. One of the best examples is the story of the voyage of an Irish saint, Brendan, who visits a series of islands with nearly surreal inhabitants and fauna. His journey is a kind of imaginative and even humourous reflection of the life and prayer of a monk. In the 12th century, the bride of King Henry I, Aeliz of Louvain, asked a monk named Benedeit to write a poem of the voyage of St Brendan in Anglo-Norman French. This manuscript has a copy of Benedeit's poem followed by a 'Voyage of Brendan' in Latin prose.
The Latin 'Voyage of St Brendan' is a separate work, not a translation of the French poem. In the middle ages, this manuscript belonged to the priory of Durham cathedral--this is known from an inscription in a part of the manuscript that is now bound in another volume. Monks and canons enjoyed saints' lives as much as anyone else, and they had to read them as part of their daily devotions.