Saint Brendan the Navigator Eastern Orthodox Mission began life as Holy Nativity Eastern Orthodox Mission in Kelso, Washington. In 2012 it relocated to Hammond, Oregon, serving the needs of the North Coast. In observance of its service to our local seafaring community, the name was changed to Saint Brendan the Navigator Eastern Orthodox Mission with the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Benjamin of the Orthodox Church in America. The Mission is part of the western diocese of the Orthodox Church in America, which traces its roots to Saint Herman of Alaska and the Russian mission to America in the late 1700s.
Our Priest-in-charge is Father Kevin Lien, who also serves as Associate Priest at the Eastern Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in Milwaukie, Oregon.
Saint Brendan was born in 484 near the port of Tralee, in County Kerry, Ireland. He was raised by Saint Ita and Saint Erc, the local bishop, who ordained him priest in 512.
In his youth, he learned the Old and New Testaments mostly by heart, and copied and codified the “Rules of the Monks of Ireland.” After his ordination, he became a monk and founded a hermitage at Ardfort, near Mt. Brandon (later named for him), on the West coast.
In 530, he determined, through a heavenly vision, to wander and spread the Gospel in foreign lands. For the rest of his life, he traveled widely with a group of monks to Scotland, Wales, Great Britain, and Brittany. He made all these voyages in Coracles, wooden framed boats covered in hide and waterproofed with tallow.
His most famous voyage was the search for the “Island of Paradise,” which lay to the West, beyond Ireland. On that voyage he visited the Faroes, Iceland, Greenland, and finally what is most likely Newfoundland.
In 1962, some petroglyphs were found in several caves in West Virginia which, when deciphered, were found to contain Chi Rho symbols and references to the sun shining into these caves on the feast of Christ’s incarnation, and a mention of the Blessed Theotokos. These inscriptions were also found in Ireland, leading archeologists to the conclusion that these pictographs were most likely drawn by Irish monks. Saint Brendan and his companions were perhaps the first Europeans to discover North America!
Saint Brendan reposed in 577 at the age of 93 and is buried at Clonfert, the last monastery he founded near the West coast of Ireland, the land he loved. He is considered one of the “Twelve Apostles of Ireland,” and is venerated today around the world. He is the patron of mariners and seafarers, bar pilots and navigators, travelers, adventurers, scuba divers — and even whales, with which he had many encounters during his journeys.
Saint Brendan’s feast day is celebrated on May 16. Saint Brendan, pray for us!