The Voyage of Saint Brendan the Abbot
One of the most famous and enduring stories of western Christendom, the Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis, written in Ireland perhaps as early as the year 800. While the routes of St. Brendan's journeys remain a subject of controversy, the tale itself is of great interest - a strongly integrated text which derives from several centuries of Irish literary tradition.
This book provided the "story within the story" and was the backdrop for all of Martin's search. Martin follows a path strikingly similar to that of St. Brendan's - both the ups and the downs. While the version of the "Voyage" in the novel is an edited version, it is meant to be an accurate and faithful rendering.
(The edition by Archbishop P. F. Moran, translated into English by Denis O’Donoghue, 1893)
The Book of Kells: An Illustrated Introduction to the Manuscript
"The Book of Kells" is a masterpiece of medieval art: a brilliantly decorated copy of the four Gospels with full-page depictions of Christ, the Virgin and the Evangelists. The strange imagination displayed in the pages, the impeccable technique and the very fine state of preservation make "The Book of Kells" an object of endless fascination. This edition reproduces the most important of the fully decorated pages plus a series of enlargements showing the almost unbelievable minuteness of the detail. Accompanying the illustrations is a text by Bernard Meehan, the Keeper of Manuscripts at Trinity College, Dublin.
It is in this book that Martin discovers certain essential clues in his search to determine the origin of the Cross.
Check out a 7 part documentary on the Book of Kells:
The Brendan Voyage
Tim Severin and his companions built a boat using only techniques and materials available in the sixth-century A.D., when St Brendan was supposed to have sailed to America. The vessel comprised forty-nine ox hides stitched together in a patchwork and stretched over a wooden frame. This leather skin was only a quarter of an inch thick. Yet Severin and his crew sailed Brendan from Brandon Creek in Dingle to Newfoundland, surviving storms and a puncture from pack ice. The Brendan Voyage is Tim Severin's dramatic account of their journey. Tim Severin didn't prove St Brendan reached America, only that he could have. Brilliantly written, The Brendan Voyage conveys unforgettably the sensation of being in a small, open boat in the vastness of the North Atlantic, visited by inquisitive whales, reaching mist-shrouded landfalls, and receiving a welcome from seafaring folk along the way.
The most important thing this book provides Martin with is modern-day proof that St. Brendan's voyage across the Atlantic was possible. If Tim Severin could do it using 6th century materials, then the Cross could really be from the fabled voyage of St. Brendan. Whether it is or not is another story altogether...
Ireland's High Cross
This book title was actually fictitious, but the one The High Crosses of Ireland: Inspirations in Stone could easily have been the book Martin would have stumbled upon.
The High Crosses of Ireland stand as elegant monuments to a high civilization of the first Christian millennium. The photographs in this book capture the quality of those master carvers' work of a thousand years ago. The book illustrates the majesty and wonder of these forms, with their characteristic ring around the head, a potent nationalistic symbol so recognized as to be used in nineteenth century graves on both sides of the Atlantic by all those wishing to identify themselves as Irish.
Didn't the Vikings have High Crosses, too? Yeah, they sure did - but it was due to Irish influence. Still, you can't blame Martin for not recognizing them as Irish right away.