WASHINGTON (June 24, 1999) -- Did the first European explorers reach North America's shores 900 years before Columbus and 300 years before the Vikings? Some archaeologists and scholars believe that a legendary Irish monk visited our continent in the 6th Century. Their theories and the monk's story are examined in a fascinating new hour-long documentary from the Catholic Communication Campaign, "Brendan the Navigator: Footsteps in America." The documentary has been provided to NBC-TV affiliates and will air on many NBC stations throughout the summer.
St. Brendan of Clonfert's exploits were the basis for one of the most popular tales of the middle ages, the Navagatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis. In 1975, British explorer Tim Severin built a leather hull boat based on the descriptions of St. Brendan's vessel provided in the Navagatio and set sail from Ireland to Newfoundland. Severin's successful journey proved wrong theories that such a boat could not be seaworthy and set the stage for some remarkable archaeological discoveries in North America.
"Brendan the Navigator: Footsteps in America" takes us from Ireland's breathtaking west coast where the monk built churches and monasteries, to sites in Newfoundland, New Hampshire, Connecticut and West Virginia that hold astonishing archeological evidence that his fabled journey to the "Land Promised of the Saints" took him to the present day U.S.A.
This one-hour documentary tells of Brendan's impact on Irish society where even today, pilgrims flock to the mountain named in his honor. It also features interviews with seven prominent archaeologists from both continents who discuss their findings and their implications.
Produced by National Arts Television for the United States Catholic Conference (USCC), "Brendan the Navigator: Footsteps in America" is part of the 1999 "Horizons of the Spirit " series provided to NBC by the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission (IBC). In addition to USCC, IBC's members are the Southern Baptist Media Technology Group, the National Council of Churches, and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Check your local NBC affiliate's listings for the date and time of the broadcast of "Brendan the Navigator" in your community, or visit the CCC's web site (www.nccbuscc.org\ccc). Home video copies of "Brendan the Navigator" can be purchased from National Arts Television at (703) 931-4454.
The U.S. Catholic Conference is the public policy agency of the U.S. bishops. Through its Catholic Communication Campaign, the USCC produces and distributes a variety of media projects including television documentaries that examine spiritual themes, Christmas and Easter specials, and public service campaigns about issues of national importance.