The Merovingian Saints

J. M. Wallace‐Hadrill

in The Frankish Church

Published in print December 1983 | ISBN: 9780198269069
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600777 | DOI:

Series: Oxford History of the Christian Church

 The Merovingian Saints

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Discusses the development, nature and role of the most characteristic form of Merovingian literature, the Lives of the Saints. This can be seen in the volumes of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica, and also in an enormous number of manuscripts that contain collections of them, most of which are from the 12th to 14th centuries, although some are earlier. They are not ‘biographies’ in the usual sense of the word, but are rather an elaborate literary exercise conducted by the Frankish Church to attract and hold popular devotion (they were to be read aloud on saints’ feast days), to define the nature of sanctity, and to keep the cult of holy men within the structure of the Church. The various Lives written by Gregory, Venantius, Jonas and others are discussed, and the changes in the sort of Saint's Life wanted by the Church in the 12th century described, of which the most significant was the inclusion of the Lives of martyred political bishops. Later Merovingian Lives are richer in personal and political detail, although they were still composed as proofs of sanctity as traditionally understood.

Keywords: cult of holy men; Frankish Church; Gregory; history; Jonas; Lives of martyred political bishops; Lives of the Saints; Merovingian literature; popular devotion; religious history; sanctity; Venantius

Chapter.  9516 words. 

Subjects: History of Christianity

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