St. Brendan

Hermitage of St. Brendan the Navigator

Order of St. Benedict

within the traditions of the Religious Society of Friends

Thank you...

for visiting our site. We pray that this site may be of help to you. First let's discuss our name.

What is the difference between a hermitage and a monastery? A hermitage is the home of a hermit. They live alone and support themselves however they can. While there may be a few hermits living by one another each is responsible for themselves. In a monastery, monks (cénobites) do everything as a community. The monks pray, eat and work together to support the monastery. A hermit is a monk but a monk isn't necessary a hermit.

Our patron, St. Brendan the Navigator, was born in Ciarraighe Luachra, near the present city of Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland, in 484; he died at Enachduin, now Annaghdown, in 577. He was baptized at Tubrid, near Ardfert, by Bishop Erc. For five years he was educated under St. Ita, "the Brigid of Munster", and he completed his studies under St. Erc, who ordained him priest in 512. Between the years 512 and 530 St. Brendan built monastic cells at Ardfert, and at Shanakeel or Baalynevinoorach, at the foot of Brandon Hill. His most celebrated foundation was Clonfert, in 557, over which he appointed St. Moinenn as Prior and Head Master. St. Brendan was interred in Clonfert, and his feast is kept on 16 May.

St. Benedict of Nursia (c. 480 – 543 or 547) main achievement is his "Rule of Saint Benedict", containing precepts for his monks. It is heavily influenced by the writings of John Cassian, and shows strong affinity with the Rule of the Master. But it also has a unique spirit of balance, moderation and reasonableness and this persuaded most religious communities founded throughout the Middle Ages to adopt it. As a result, his Rule became one of the most influential religious rules in Western Christendom. For this reason, Benedict is often called the founder of Western monasticism.

Seventy-three short chapters comprise the Rule. Its wisdom is of two kinds: spiritual (how to live a Christocentric life on earth) and administrative (how to run a monastery efficiently). More than half the chapters describe how to be obedient and humble, and what to do when a member of the community is not. About one-fourth regulate the work of God (the Opus Dei). One-tenth outline how, and by whom, the monastery should be managed. And two chapters specifically describe the abbot’s pastoral duties.

There were Benedictine monks and nuns long before anyone spoke of religious orders: in fact, for several centuries when the Western church was Orthodox, Benedictine monasticism was the only form of religious life in the Western Church. Benedictines are thus much older than the concept of a religious order as there is no clear chain of continuity from the founder himself down through history. St. Romuald (c. 950 - 1027) was one of these monks. His memory remains principally connected with the foundation of the Hermitage of Camaldoli. Camaldoli is a clearing (originally called Campo Malduli), in the Tuscan Appennines, in the province of Arezzo. It was precisely in this locality that Romuald, enchanted by the solitary peace and beauty of the mountain region, all encircled by the forest, thought of constructing a little hermitage. He chose five disciples, built five little huts for them, and named one of them Superior. As he left, he did not give them a monastic rule, but he did recommend three things: staying in cell, keeping silence, and fasting. These disciples lived as hermits and as cénobites at the same time: hermits, because living separately and in silence; cénobites, because subject to a superior and with some common religious customs and practices. Camaldoli was, as it were, the seed from which, through various vicissitudes, there developed the Camaldolese Order.

So who are the hermits at the Hermitage of St. Brendan the Navigator? You just have to read more About us.