"White shark (Carcharodon carcharias) scavenging on whale carcass - journal.pone.0060797.g004-A" by Fallows C, Gallagher AJ, Hammerschlag N (2013) - Fallows C, Gallagher AJ, Hammerschlag N (2013) White Sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) Scavenging on Whales and Its Potential Role in Further Shaping the Ecology of an Apex Predator. PLoS ONE 8(4): e60797. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060797. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:White_shark_(Carcharodon_carcharias)_scavenging_on_whale_carcass_-_journal.pone.0060797.g004-A.png#/media/File:White_shark_(Carcharodon_carcharias)_scavenging_on_whale_carcass_-_journal.pone.0060797.g004-A.png

“White shark (Carcharodon carcharias) scavenging on whale carcass –  journal.pone.0060797.g004-A.png. Credit: Daniel Mietchen (CC BY 2.5)

I don’t know about your place of employment, but Shark Week celebration is in full swing here at CNA.

Naturally, I have been in search of the Patron Saint of Sharks, because Catholics have patron saints for everything, right?

Turns out, we have no patron saint of sharks (yet – though I’m pretty sure some of my friends have already called dibs once they get to heaven)!

It looks like St. Brendan of Clonfert, patron saint of sailors, marine scientists, boatmen, navigators, travelers, older adventurers, and whales – is the closest we’ve come so far.

Also known as “Brendan the Voyager,” this saint was born in 484, near the present-day city of Tralee in County Kerry, Ireland.St.Brendan

Besides founding various monasteries throughout Ireland, St. Brendan is best known for his voyage to find “The Isle of the Blessed” or “Paradise”, which he had heard of through the stories of another monk. Determined to find this mysterious place, St. Brendan set out with some companions (reports range from 18-150 other monks) on a ship made of oak bark with tanned ox hides stretched over a framework of ash.

More than 100 medieval Latin manuscripts of this Voyage of Saint Brendan still exist, and there are versions in Middle English, French, German, Italian, Flemish and other languages. Although the legitimacy of the actual journey is hotly contested, legend has it that Brendan and his companions had many adventures on this boat over the course of their SEVEN YEAR journey including: landing on what they thought was an island but turned out to be a giant sea monster, celebrating Easter on the back of a whale, and escaping a sea-cat as big as a horse (WHAT?).

Finally, they landed on an island with luxurious vegetation, believing they had found this promised land. Reports of the location of this mysterious island range from being somewhere in the sea just west of Ireland, to Iceland or Greenland, to the Americas – meaning Fr. Brendan and his companions would have beat out Christopher Columbus by about 1,000 years. Although there is no proof of the journey of Fr. Brendan and his companions, there are reports from the Shawano tribe that Florida was occupied by a different group of white men prior to Columbus. Might it have been the Irish monks?

A missionary at heart, St. Brendan spent another 3 years in Britain spreading the Gospel before returning to his native Ireland, where he died in 557. His feast day is celebrated on May 16.

Saint Brendan, almost-patron-saint-of-Shark-Week, pray for us!