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How Students Learn: History, Mathematics, and Science in the Classroom
3. A modern picture of what we think Brendan’s boat might look like.
Another day the monks were blown towards an island, and Brendan was worried. He heard the sound of a forge, with the thud of a hammer on an anvil. As the monks came near the island, an islander came out and threw molten metal and hot stones at them. A lump flew 200 yards over their heads and fell into the sea. The sea round it boiled, and smoke rose up. Then more islanders rushed down to the shore and threw hot stones at the monks. Soon it looked as if the whole island was on fire. The sea boiled, the air was filled with a howling sound, and there was a terrible smell. Brendan told his monks they had reached the edge of Hell. They sailed away as fast as they could.
In the end the Steward from the Isle of Sheep had to help them find the Land of Promise. They left the Isle of Sheep again, and after 40 days at sea they sailed into a great fog. The Steward said the fog always encircled the Land of Promise.
At last they saw a great light, and the boat came to the shore. The land was full of fruit trees. They explored for 40 days, but still did not come to the end of the land they were exploring. Finally they reached a big river, which Brendan said they would not be able to cross. A man came to them, spoke to them by name, and said the land would eventually be made known to all people at a time when Christians were being persecuted.
Brendan gathered samples of fruits, and sailed home with his monks.
Explanation of Words in the Story
Latin was the language people used for writing in Brendan’s time. Almost the only people in Europe who could write were Christian monks and priests. Christian priests continued to use Latin for