Saint Amaro - The Periplus of Amaro

The Periplus of Amaro

Like Saint Brendan, Amaro is said to have travelled on a journey that echoes that of the Irish immram –the voyages to the paradisiacal islands of the West. An edition of the Life of Saint Amaro was published at Burgos in 1552.

His legend holds that Amaro was a noble Christian from Asia who was obsessed with the idea of visiting the earthly paradise. With this goal in mind, he would inquire for more information from his guests. Amaro was not successful in receiving information from them and was quite desperate and anguished about this until one night, God appeared to him and revealed how to reach his objective. Amaro would have to build a boat and follow the path of the sun across the Atlantic Ocean.

Amaro took to the sea with some companions and sailed for six days and seven nights until he reached an island. This was an extremely fertile land that was blessed with five cities inhabited by uncouth men –though the women were quite beautiful.

Amaro spent six months there until he heard a voice in his dreams telling him to depart the island. Amaro sailed through the "Red Sea" until he reached the land of a beautiful fountain, where the people were beautiful and lived peaceful lives that lasted three hundred years. Amaro remained there for three weeks until an old women advised that he leave the island before he became accustomed to the good life.

They sailed for a long time into the vast unknown until they saw several vessels that they thought could assist them. Unfortunately, they found that these vessels had been invaded by monsters, which had killed the sailors and taken their bodies down to the depths of the ocean. Amaro was rescued by an apparition of a group of women, who advised him to empty his bottles of wine and oil into the sea, and then fill the bottles with air. Amaro did this and was rescued from this "Mar Cuajado" (lit. "Still Sea"; the Doldrums).

Three days later they arrived at another desert island, which was inhabited by savage beasts hostile to man. There they found a hermit who informed them that the beasts there annihilated themselves by fighting one another on the day of Saint John; the stench of the corpses persisted throughout the year. The hermit provided them with supplies and recommended that they sail East, where there was a beautiful land that would satisfy all of their needs.

They sailed the next day and arrived in the afternoon, finding a monastery named Valdeflores. A monk from this monastery, Leonites, greeted them and told Amaro that he was waiting for him: he was already informed of their arrival by means of a vision. Leonites provided Amaro with instructions on how to reach the Earthly Paradise.

With Leonites, Amaro and his companions arrived at a natural harbor where they remained for a month, after which they traveled to an extensive and rugged valley, where Amaro will find what he was looking for: the Earthly Paradise. First, however, Amaro stumbled upon a nunnery situated high upon a mountaintop called Flor de Dueñas (Flower of Ladies).

He remained there, receiving further instructions on how to reach Paradise from a holy woman named Baralides. He is presented with a white habit. This is given to him by Brígida (Bridget), the niece of Baralides who lives in Paradise. Unfortunately, Leonites began to cry: he's losing a dear friend. But Baralides appears, and comforts Leonites with a gift. She presents him with a branch of one of the two magical trees of the Earthly Paradise.

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