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Saint Brendan saying mass on the back of a whale

Date: 1621
Mount: 5 mm
Overall: 339 x 412 mm, 0.28 kg
Display Dimensions: 173 x 277 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Print
Object No: 00019658

User Terms

    Engraved map illustrating the voyage of the 5th century Irish monk Saint Brendan in search of the Island of Paradise. St Brendan is shown saying mass on the back of a sea monster, here depicted as a whale.
    SignificanceThis print is an important record of European illustrations of whales throughout the centuries and demonstrates the unfolding scientific knowledge of them.
    HistoryThis engraving illustrates the voyage of the Irish monk St Brendan (484 - 577 AD) based a Latin manuscript written around 900 AD, the Navigatio Sancti Brandanni.

    The 'Nova typis Transacta Navigatio', published in 1621, is mainly about the Benedictine priest Bernard Buil of Montserrat, who accompanied Columbus on his second voyage. Before beginning those adventures the author recounts the story of another saintly St Brendan. The author author is given as Honorius Philoponus which is probably a pseuodnym for Caspar Plautius to whom this book is dedicated. Caspar Plautius was the abbot of the Benedictine monastery Seitenstetten in Austria. So is recounting voyages of another Benedictine, Buil, and another abbot, Brendan.

    The illustration accompanying the text are most likely the work of Wolfgang Kilian (1581-1662), an Augsburg printmaker. He is presumed to be the artist for all the images in the book not obviously derived from the Petits Voyages and Grands Voyages of Theodor de Bry.

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