Cynthia Whidden Green:
Saint Kentigern, Apostle to Strathclyde: A critical analysis of a northern saint
A Masters Thesis Presented to The Faculty of the Department of English
University of Houston
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts
© Cynthia Whiddon Green December, 1998
This thesis accompanies the transation of
Jocelyn, a monk of Furness: The Life of
Several years ago, in the course of searching for information on another project, I
came across the following reference: "Arthur the chief lord at Penrionyd in the
north, and Cyndeyrn Garthwys the chief bishop, and Gurthmwl Guledic the chief ruler."
Having never seen the name "Cynderyrn" before, I made a note to check further on
this bishop, and later found that Saint Kentigern [Cynderyrn] was a late sixth century
bishop who had been given the epithet "Apostle to Strathclyde." Then another
reference to Cynderyrn showed up in the Bonedd y Saint that described Cynderyrn as
the son of Owain ab Urien Rheged and Dwynwen the daughter of Llewddyn Lueddag of Dinas
Eiddyn. This pedigree linked Cynderyrn to the regions of the British kingdoms that were
under increasing pressure by the expansion of the Anglo-Saxons from the south, a time and
place in which I am interested as there are so few extant primary sources concerning
"Dark Age" Scotland. The genealogy also tied Cynderyrn to the kingdoms of Rheged
and Lothian, and I was intrigued with the possibilities that this connection might have in
relation to the rise of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira, the conflict
between the British Celtic church and the Roman doctrine introduced by St. Augustine, and
the continuance of stories pertaining to the "Men of the North" in Welsh oral
traditions. However, the most intriguing questions surrounding the story of this bishop
and confessor concerned the Life of Saint Kentigern, a hagiographic masterpiece
written by a twelfth century monk named Jocelyn of Furness Abbey. What motivated a
Cistercian monk in northern Lancashire to write a vita of an obscure sixth century
saint of Strathclyde? What were the historical, social, and political contexts surrounding
the writing of this Life? And who would be the audience for such a voluminous text?
In looking further into the life and times of Saint Kentigern, I found that W. M.
Metcalfe's translation of Pinkerton's edition of Kentigern's Life in the late
nineteenth century was the last published translation, but this text at times edited or
summarized sections of Kentigern's Life and the nineteenth century rhetoric made
for difficult reading. My original plan was to provide a modern translation of Kentigern's Life as a source of reference for both the general reader interested in hagiography
as well as for scholars of Scottish studies. However, the process of translating opened up
other avenues of inquiry relating to contextualizing Kentigern both as a late sixth
century historical figure and as a twelfth century reconstruction by Jocelyn of Furness.
Issues of historical veracity, provenance, oral traditions, political agendas,
metropolitan conflicts, and other sundry debates seemed inherent in analyzing the text of
Kentigern's Life, and the more I plowed into uncovering the historical, social, and
political context the vita, the more I realized the scope of the project. The
original plan of translating the text gave way to providing an overall introduction into
the study of Saint Kentigern. While the thesis contains an examination of the Jocelyn's
twelfth century Life of Saint Kentigern, more questions are raised than are
answered in the analysis. It is my hope that the issues discussed in the thesis will act
as a springboard for further research into the life of this saint.
The thesis examines Kentigern's life from two separate but related historical contexts.
The first of these historical periods deals with Kentigern's ministry and apostleship to
the sixth century British kingdom of Strathclyde. Although historical documents of this
period are scanty, there are certain episodes within Kentigern's vita that confirm
the analysis done on this period by Nora Chadwick, Alfred Smyth and other historians of
"Dark Age" Scotland. The second avenue of analysis stems from orienting
Kentigern's life in the context of the medieval kingdom of Scotland in the twelfth
century. The tentative outcome of this line of inquiry places Kentigern as a symbol of the
Scottish church's independence from either York or Canterbury, a heavenly protector and
patron of David I and his descendents, a proto-Cistercian intent on reforming the
"barbaric" practices of the Celtic church, and a powerful intercessor for the
native people of Strathclyde, who continued to maintain a perception of Kentigern grounded
in an oral tradition plainly contrary to catholic doctrine. Such a multi-layered
perspective implies a diverse audience for the text with each audience retaining its own
assumptions as to the importance of the saint to their own communities. Each of these
sometimes conflicting representations of Kentigern is found within the text of his life,
and these views only underscore the immense possibilities for analysis that this vita contains for both literary and historical scholars.
In order to place the Life of Saint Kentigern within its social context, Part
One of the thesis defines the importance of saints in the Middle Ages and the hagiographic
models used by writers of saints' lives during this time. I begin with a brief overview of
the cult of the saints and the role these saints played within their societies. Since part
of my analysis of Saint Kentigern is related to his construction by Jocelyn as a soldier
of Christ and patron of Glasgow, I believed it was necessary to provide some background
into the literary models used by hagiographers in presenting their subjects to their
audience. This section summarizes the evolution of the cult of the saints from the early
martyrs to the more encompassing sanctity of asceticism and ecclesiastical confessors. The
same method is used in presenting the changes in the literary representation of saints
from the early acta martyrorum to the more complete narratives of saints in the
later Middle Ages, and in the course of the summary, I give some of the reasons behind the
changes of hagiographic model and the implications of these changes in relation to the
societies which produced these texts. This overview should be helpful in understanding the
social value of Jocelyn's Life of Saint Kentigern as well as providing a lens
through which to see where Jocelyn diverges from the literary model.
Part Two of the thesis provides a historical survey of the northern sixth century
British kingdoms, and their relationships with Wales, Ireland, and the developing
Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Deira and Bernicia. Since the original locus for
Kentigern's life takes place in Strathclyde, I considered the historical context important
to the overall understanding of the place this saint held within his original cult area.
This section describes the "heroic" nature of the sixth century British kingdoms
and how aspects of that society are reflected in Kentigern's life. The discussion includes
a look at the cultural and linguistic unity between the British kingdoms and lays the
groundwork for my argument concerning the retention of legendary tales in Strathclyde that
present Kentigern as connected to the earliest Welsh literature alluding to Urien and
Owain of Rheged, and by inference to King Arthur. A look at the scholarship surrounding
the British church is also discussed as a means of examining the differences between the
doctrine and rituals of the early Celtic church and those of the Roman church. Since the
debates over reforming the Scottish church in the twelfth century involved to a great
extent issues relating to Celtic religious practices, such as clerical marriage and
hereditary church offices, an understanding of the ways in which the Celtic church
differed from that of the Roman is essential in understanding Jocelyn's representation of
Kentigern as a reforming bishop.
Although my translation of Jocelyn's Life of Saint Kentigern is attached as an
appendix to the thesis, I realize that some readers may wish to forego reading the entire
text of the vita and instead focus exclusively on the analysis. To that end, Part
Three offers a summary of Jocelyn's narrative as well as references to the story of
Kentigern as related in both the earlier Herbertian or fragmentary life and the sixteenth
century Aberdeen Breviary, which contains an Office of St. Kentigern. A comparison
of these texts provides the reader with a more thorough understanding of the editorial
practices of Jocelyn in his use of sources, especially sources that reflect an oral
tradition. By outlining Kentigern's life, there is given to the reader some acquaintance
with the text itself and a reference for the events discussed in the later sections of the
thesis. Also the summary allows a reader to quickly find a particular passage for further
Part Four of the thesis looks at the twelfth century connection between the
Cistercians, David I of Scotland, and Jocelyn's representation of Kentigern as a symbol of
the Scottish church's victory over York in the matter of ecclesiastical submission.
Although David had been brought up at the very Norman court in England, as king of
Scotland David was very aware of his Scottish inheritance. His followers were given lands
in Strathclyde and Lothian (areas where there was a strong tradition relating to
Kentigern) and their continuing patronage of Kentigern and his diocese of Glasgow helped
cement a stable relationship between the Norman families and the native Celtic peoples who
inhabited this area and looked to Kentigern as their protector. It was also these lands
whose boundaries with England were in perpetual flux during the time that Jocelyn is
writing, and overlordship of both Strathclyde and Lothian vacillated between Edinburgh and
London up to the time of William the Lion, David's grandson. While David was still earl of
Strathclyde, he showed his interest in Kentigern by reviving the see at Glasgow and
installing his own chaplain, John, as bishop. The choice of a reforming Cistercian monk as
bishop of Glasgow may have been influenced by David's friendship with Aelred of Rievaulx,
a crusading Cistercian who wrote a life of Ninian, another northern saint in whom David
expressed interest. This installation of John as bishop of Glasgow and successor to
Kentigern's mantle marks only the beginning of a complex relationship between David I, the
reforming order of the Cistercians, and Kentigern. David's largesse to the Cistercians is
evidenced by his many grants of land for forming new monasteries, and his patronage in
expanding the cult of Kentigern beyond the bounderies of Strathclyde argues for a
political motive behind David's interest in an obscure Strathclyde saint. Such a political
agenda can be shown in David I's desire to obtain from Rome an archbishopric in Scotland
that would be free from the interference of the English church. The convoluted history of
the Scottish church's dispute with York is chronicled in this section up to its resolution
in favor of Glasgow during the reign of William the Lion in the late twelfth century.
Jocelyn, himself a Cistercian at Furness Abbey, was aware of the patronage granted by
David I to the Cistercians, and Jocelyn's writings also include a vita of Waltheof,
David I's stepson and Cistercian abbot of Melrose. Jocelyn's Life of Saint Kentigern is addressed to Bishop Jocelyn of Glasgow Cathedral, the same bishop who presented
Glasgow's case before Rome in the debate over the Scottish church's submission to York. By
representing Kentigern as a forerunner of the Cistercian reformers, Jocelyn showed
awareness of an audience composed of aristocratic patrons whose agenda was to advance the
cause of the Scottish kingdom in both the political and religious arenas.
There are still many unanswered questions concerning David and the Cistercians in
Scotland; however, I believe that Jocelyn consciously recontextualized Kentigern as a
proto-Cistercian in writing his vita in order to further enhance the patronage of
the Norman aristocracy for the diocese of Glasgow, and by extension, for all the
Cistercian foundations in Scotland. Furthermore, by linking the victory of Glasgow over
the archdiocese of York and the royal prestige of David I and his descendents to the
symbolic parallels of Kentigern's victory over the "pagan" elements in
Strathclyde, Jocelyn was able to attach the mystical power of Kentigern as a chosen vessel
of God to the formation of an independent Scottish church and kingdom protected by God
through his saint.
The style and rhetoric of Jocelyn are examined in Part Five as another means of
addressing the perplexing question of Jocelyn's audience for his text. Since the primary
reason for a saint's life was to provide a model of sanctity and holy living for those
hearing the text, a vita was usually composed in a simple Latinate style, termed
the sermo humilis. Although the preface to a saint's life might employ several
highly ornate rhetorical strategies, the life itself was composed in language that
reflected the humility of the saint and Christ. Jocelyn effectively does away with the
distinction between the preface and the vita proper and prefers to write the
majority of his text in an extremely complex and convoluted style. Such language argues
for Jocelyn's perception of his audience as highly literate. The use of ornamental
language is most clearly seen when Jocelyn is dismissing the stories of Kentigern still
held by the "common" people as being ignorant and contrary to catholic doctrine.
I would suggest that Jocelyn consciously employs this ornate language as a rhetorical
means of defining his literate audience as those who know the "truth," and
representing his illiterate audience as those who believe in "fables." This
section also examines Jocelyn's use of other hagiographic stylistic markers such as the
"humility topos" and his use of scriptural authority in constructing Kentigern
in the likeness of an Old Testament prophet and first century apostle. There are many more
avenues of analysis left unanswered by this examination of Jocelyn's rhetoric, especially
in his use of language to differentiate and even stratify his audience.
Part Six focuses on both the oral traditions imbedded within the text and Jocelyn's use
of these traditions in formulating his construction of Kentigern. First I look at how
Kentigern fits the model of a Celtic saint as defined by the motifs found in Irish and
Welsh saints' lives. Drawing on the scholarship of Dorothy Bray and Elissa Henken, I came
to the conclusion that Kentigern fits the model of a Celtic saint through the inclusion in
his life of several motifs and patterns that are found in distinctly Celtic hagiography.
This conclusion also implies an awareness on the part of Jocelyn that at least a portion
of his audience carried certain assumptions of what constitutes a saint within their own
culture. The text of Jocelyn also includes tales, such as "the fish and the
ring," that circulated in other Celtic literature, and provides further support for
the Celtic provenance of Jocelyn's reconstruction of Kentigern. The representation of
Kentigern as a Celtic saint probably stems from two known sources for Jocelyn's text: oral
stories that were told to him and a "little book" written in Scottic. Both of
these sources are difficult to analyze; however some tentative conclusions can be drawn
concerning Jocelyn's use of these materials in his text. Jocelyn invariably states within
the text when his sources are oral by using the phrase "and the people say." At
times Jocelyn refers to the transmission of a particular story by indicating to whom the
story was told as part of his proof that a miracle attributed to Kentigern has a basis in
oral authority. However, Jocelyn also will try to refute such tales when they detract from
his construction of Kentigern as an ideal saint chosen by God. The second inference that
can be drawn from these sources is an even more tentative analysis of the politics of the
north in the twelfth century as played out in the tales of the secular northern hero
Owain. As there was a definite cultural unity between Strathclyde and northern Wales, the
secular hero of both areas would have been Owain, son of Urien, whose exploits are well
documented in the Welsh literature and the romances of Chrétien de Troyes. Owain is named
as the father of Kentigern in the fragmentary life, although Kentigern's conception is
unusual, and in one variant, even violent (i.e., Owain rapes Theneu). However, St.
Servanus in the fragmentary life justifies the conception as being necessary so that
Kentigern could be born and fulfill his mission as apostle to the "heathen."
Although Jocelyn ignores this tale in his text, and even goes to far as to label the story
as a "history uncanonical," his reticence to include this story of Kentigern's
conception may be interpreted as a rhetorical strategy to downplay the part of Owain in
Kentigern's life, and therefore to diminish the role of Owain as a secular hero among the
native population. This line of inquiry is further strengthened when the complete absence
of any reference to Arthur in the text is acknowledged. Since the Normans in the south had
begun appropriating the stories of Arthur into their own reconstructions as heirs of
Arthur, it is not too farfetched to see the people of Strathclyde as perpetuating the
tales of Owain as a means of authenticating their independence from the south. As has
already been shown in Part Four, the Normans who came into Strathclyde under the auspices
of David I readily joined themselves to the cause of an independent Scottish kingdom and
would have been more inclined to incorporate Owain into their heroic ancestors. Jocelyn,
being aware of the heroic nature of Owain, would have been placed in the position of
creating an even greater hero in Kentigern in order to displace Owain. This predicament
may account for Jocelyn's use of the Myrddin legend as the closing chapter for Kentigern's
life. The story of the wild man is known to have been widely distributed and the Vita
Merlini Silvestris directly links Myrddin with Kentigern and depicts Kentigern as
overcoming the wild man. Also earlier fragments of poetry attributed to Myrddin relate
that Myrddin was afraid of Rederech, king of Strathclyde, not because of Rederech's
military strength but due to his patronage of monks (i.e., Kentigern). This poetry may be
seen as exemplifying the change from a reliance on secular bardic tradition to a Christian
ethos. By using this tale to conclude Kentigern's life, Jocelyn may have been redefining
Saint Kentigern as the greater hero of the north. This is only one possible conclusion for
Jocelyn's use of oral source material in his text and a more in-depth analysis of the
material is needed in order to verify this view, but the conclusion does fit the scenario
known to have existed in twelfth century Strathclyde.
Finally the thesis concludes with a short look at the written texts of Kentigern's
life. The first text discussed is the "Scottic" book referred to by both the
author of the fragmentary life and by Jocelyn himself. I suggest that, contrary to Kenneth
Jackson's belief that this book was written in "barbarous" Latin, this text was
written in Gaelic after the influx of a Gaelic-speaking population into Strathclyde in the
early eleventh century. I believe this text incorporated legends that were already in
place among the native Brittonic population and this accounts for the extensive knowledge
of Lothian geography as well as the Irish folk motifs found in Jocelyn's Life of St.
Kentigern. This section also takes a closer look at Jocelyn's use of local legend
compared to that of the anonymous author of the fragmentary life. The anonymous author
records all the variants of a particular tale irrespective of their moral content while
Jocelyn clearly privileges only those tales that support his perception of Kentigern as
the ideal heroic saint. The same editorial practice on the part of Jocelyn can be seen in
his reworking of material that is found in the later Sprouston Breviary and the Breviary
of Aberdeen. These two texts, although written down much later, obviously contain
variants of the life of Kentigern that have a connection with the fragmentary life, and as
such, can be used in comparison with Jocelyn's text. The final conclusion of this section
of the thesis reinforces the earlier statement that Jocelyn used his editorial skills to
promote Kentigern as a symbol of an independent Scottish church and as a saint who was
chosen by God to bring His people out of darkness and into the light of a reformed and
A project of this magnitude requires the imput and advice of many people and can truly
be termed a collaborative project. In the process of producing this thesis, I have had to
rely on the knowledge and advice of others who were kind enough to listen and provide
guidance in a most constructive manner. I want to thank profusely my most supportive
mentor and director of this thesis, Dr. John McNamara. Dr. McNamara contributed his time,
his wisdom, and a firm guiding hand to keep me focused when I was floundering in chaos.
Not only did Dr. McNamara provide me with a workable idea for a thesis, but he also spent
the time to proof my translation and gave me invaluable insight into the theory and
purpose of translation in general. I could not have asked for a better director and I am
indeed indebted to Dr. McNamara's patience in seeing this project through to the end. May
the saints always smile on you. I also need to express my thanks and appreciation to Dr.
Carl Lindahl, a professor who constantly made me question my assumptions concerning oral
traditions, legends, and folklore. I came into this project a novice in the ways of folk
traditions, and if I am not yet qualified to call myself a folklorist, at least Dr.
Lindahl's advice has kept me aware of the underlying biases I bring to any examination of
an oral tradition. I am also indebted to Dr. Lindahl for pointing out the possible
ramifications of Jocelyn's use of the Myrddin prophecies in constructing his narrative of
Kentigern. Such knowledge was an important contribution to my overall analysis of this
text and helped to tie several loose ends together. Another important contributor to the
project was Dr. Sally Vaughn. Dr. Vaughn came to the project late and yet was willing to
read the text and make substantial notes concerning the politics surrounding the
Glasgow-York controversy in the twelfth century. Her knowledge of this time period is
immense, and again I can only express my gratitude in having her input for this portion of
the thesis. My overall analysis of Jocelyn's audience would be less convincing without her
contributions. Dr. Richard Armstrong also spent many hours working with me on my
translation, and although the translation itself did not become the focus for this thesis,
I want to thank him for his time in this endeavor and for his criticism. Lastly, I need to
acknowledge those who allowed me to use them as a sounding board Laurel Lacroix,
Stephanie Deitrich, Dr. Cynthia McNamara, Dr. Lorraine Stock, and Dr. Hilary Mackie. Their
comments were always helpful and provided much needed clarity when everything seemed
shrouded in darkness. However, the conclusions of the thesis are my own, and I alone am
responsible for any glaring errors.
To my husband and my children, thank you for your love. No other words are needed.
Highlands, 1998 C.W.G.
This thesis presents an analysis of Jocelyn of Furness's Life of Saint Kentigern,
a twelfth century hagiographic text that narrates the life of a sixth century saint in
Strathclyde. The primary objective of the thesis centers on formulating a social,
historical, and religious context for Jocelyn's text, and by extension, defining the role
and purpose of the text for Jocelyn's audience. The format of the analysis follows three
main areas of research: (1) the hagiographic model and Jocelyn's use of this model in
recreating his text; (2) the historical politics of Scotland in the twelfth century that
had a direct bearing on the formulation of the text; and (3) the Jocelyn's editorial
practices in relation to local oral tradition concerning Kentigern. The conclusion argues
that Jocelyn wrote for a primarily limited audience composed of Cistercian monks whom he
considered to be highly literate and knowledgeable of Roman church doctrine. However,
Jocelyn was also aware of the social importance of Kentigern as patron saint of
Strathclyde, and his incorporation of oral tradition pertaining to this saint is evidence
of a secondary audience who retained and perpetuated stories of Kentigern within their own
communities and sometimes directly in opposition to the canons of the church. The thesis
concludes that Jocelyn, as a hagiographer, uses his editorial skills to effectively
present his portrait of Kentigern to a diverse audience as both a saintly hero and symbol
of God's protection of an independent Scottish church. Table of Contents
Medieval Saints and
Medieval hagiography, the writings of saints' lives from about AD 500 - 1500, presents
an enormous wealth of material in which to uncover belief systems of the past.
At the most basic level, hagiographers sought to compile these vitae in order to
present models of sanctity for their readers to imitate. The text of a saint's life was
viewed as a type of holy relic in the Middle Ages, and "an attentive reading or
hearing of a saint's legend was seen as a form of actual contact with the saint."1 Such a statement, however, raises questions concerning the
composition of the audience, the expectations of the community, the role of the
"patron saint" within a given culture, as well as the validity of the
hagiographer's sources for the life of a particular saint. The narrative of a saint's life
can be seen as "a medium for symbolic representation, since the essential thing (res)
being signified (the presence of the divine in the saint) exists outside a system where
sign and signified can be empirically validated."2 As
hagiographers narrate the events in the lives of saints, they will also incorporate their
community's cultural and social models within the context of the vitae. Through
language, the hagiographer attempts to mediate between the sacred and the secular, and the
finished product of the vita stands at the point where the earthly and the divine
intersect. In order for such a representation to be efficacious for its intended audience,
the hagiographer must also rely on signs and symbols that are drawn from a common belief
system a belief system which tends to incorporate secular tales and legends, the
miraculous and the wonderful, and the lore of obscure and local knowledge as opposed to
universal religious precepts and authoritative
canons. It is through the examination of the narrative language and style of the
hagiographer that a more complete picture of the beliefs of past cultures can be made
known to present-day literary and historical scholars.
Hagiography resembles secular biography in some aspects, such as the focus on the veritas of a person's deeds, and in the Middle Ages, these two genres were not considered as
distinct from one another. However, hagiography tends to repress or gloss over the
individuality of the saint in favor of formulating a representation of the saint as a type
of Christ or the prophets. Pre-twelfth century vitae stress the
"sameness" of the saints as one rhetorical method for convincing the audience
that the saint "was just like other holy people."3 The peculiarities of an individual personality are, as Delehaye so aptly put it,
"absorbed" by the "ideal figure" of hagiography's saint.4 The idea that all saints contain a paradigmatic unchangeableness
found support in the writings of Gregory the Great:
[The saints] innately possess within themselves a proper changeableness; yet while they
always zealously desire to cling to the unchanging truth, by clinging to it they cause it
to happen that they become unchanging.5
Even as hagiography tries to compress the representation of saints into a unified
whole, the texts of the vitae tend to reflect the cultural mores in which they were
written and produced, and are therefore of value in obtaining an understanding of certain
cultures that lack written documentation or as sources that may provide insight into other
secular writings of that particular society.
Certain conventions are common in all hagiographic writings. Since saints' lives are
meant to be models for holy living, parallels between the saint and Christ and between the
saint and the apostles and prophets are recorded by the hagiographer. The narrative of a vita usually includes "a sequence of infancy episodes, a description of the saint's person
and qualities, an account of his or her career with a heavy emphasis on miracle stories, a
death narrative, and a series of posthumous miracles."6 Miraculous
intercession after death demonstrated that "the servant of God (the dead saint) now
sat in heaven among the community of saints and was able to intercede with Christ to
answer the prayers of the faithful on earth."7 The hagiographer usually
stresses the high social status of the saint, but other members of a saint's family are
mentioned only when they directly either promote or hinder the religious development of
the saint. The passio (the "passion" or death) of a martyr will often
take the place of a full narrated life, and this subgroup of hagiography follows a
different set of conventions.8 However, the common mark of "sanctity"
in both the vitae and the acta martyrum depends on the saints' ability to
control various critical spheres of human life. Power may be exercised "over kin by
breaking familial or conjugal ties, over the enticements of the world by rejecting the
privileges associated with high social status; over the body through sexual abstinence and
a meager intake of food, over political leaders responsible for maintaining oppressive
social conditions by liberating the imprisoned, over non-Christians by coercing them to
convert and persecuting them, over rival representatives within the saint's own church by
creating factionalism, and over the natural world by miraculously manipulating it."9 This attainment of power is the sine qua non of sanctity and is found in some
respect in all lives of the saints, whether they be male and female, martyr and confessor,
Continental or Insular.
These conventions only form a working outline for the hagiographer, and the time and
place of the writing of a particular vita will effect how closely an author follows
the hagiographic model. In early Celtic vitae, for example, more emphasis is placed
on the conception and childhood of the saints than is found in Continental, or even
Anglo-Saxon, saints' lives. Merovingian authors in general "show a remarkable
resistance to literary trends that characteristically display the often tumultuous
vicissitudes in a person struggling to attain holiness."10 In later
medieval lives, less importance is given to the noble lineage of a saint. The introduction
of local legends concerning a particular saint is sometimes at odds with accepted church
doctrine, and the hagiographer often must walk a fine line in creating a vita that
will satisfy a wide range of audiences. These variations of the model stem from the
cultural beliefs of a particular time and place acting upon the author, and the social and
political reasons influencing the attempt to textualize a particular saint with a written
Before exploring further the genre of hagiography in general, and the importance of
Jocelyn's Life of Saint Kentigern to the corpus of Scottish saints' lives in
particular, a short overview of the cult of the saints in the Middle Ages may be helpful
in placing this literature within its social context.11 The earliest Christian
saints were martyrs ("witnesses"), and their deaths were perceived by the church
as being confessions of faith to the death and resurrection of Christ. The earliest
written accounts of the martyrs usually comprised a catalogue of names along with notes on
the death-scene and the place where a martry was buried, but only a few of these early
Calenders have survived. The Depositio Martyrum (c. 354) is one such calender
listing the anniversaries of several important marytrs in Latin. The most important of the
Greek Calenders is the Syrian Martyrology, which is dated about 412. The earliest
Latin martyrology, a collection of short martyr narratives collected from several
Calenders, was written in Rome near the beginning of the eighth century and is called the Martyrologium
Romanum parvum.12 These documents are not authoritative accounts of the
martyrs, but seem to be compilations of a personal nature, perhaps collected together as
an a aid for private worship. However, it was evidently the custom in the early church to
read the names of the martyrs in public on the anniversary of their deaths. St. Cyprian
(d. 258) mentions such readings in his letters, and the Third Church Council at Carthage
in 397 expressly permitted such recognition of the saints.13 These rather
simple written accounts laid the groundwork for the more complete martryologies
constructed by Bede, Florus, and Rabanus Maurus in the ninth century. The primary purposes
of these myrtyrologies constisted in acting as models of holy living for those who read
and heard these narratives and as emblems of faithful service for a church still suffering
In the early fourth century, Constantine granted political acceptance to Christianity
with the Edict of Milan and, as the persecutions against the church ceased, Christianity
began to play a more active role in Roman society. The remains of the martyrs were exhumed
from the cemetaries and transferred to more prestigious tombs. St. Augustine, aware of the
veneration given to the growing cult of the martrys, wrote of the importance in
understanding the difference between the devotion to the saints and the adoration of God:
"We build temples to our martyrs not like temples for the gods, but as tombs of
mortal men, whose spirits live with God. We do not build altars on which to offer
sacrifices to martyrs, but we offer sacrifice to God alone, who is both ours and theirs.
During this sacrifice they are named in their place and order, in so far as they are men
of God who have overcome the world by confessing God, but they are not invoked by the
priest who offers sacrifice. He offers sacrifice to God, not to them (although it is
celebrated in their memory) because he is God's priest, not the priest of the martyrs. The
sacrifice is the Body of Christ."14 Although St. Augustine believed the
"temples of the martyrs" should be seen as "tombs of mortal men," the
final resting place of the saint was always the locus for the cult, and as such,
devotees of a particular cult believed that the intercessorary power of the martyr was
greatest at the place where the martyr's physical remains rested. As Maximus of Turnin
noted, "All the martyrs, therefore, are to be very devoutly honored, but the ones
whose relics we possess are to be especially venerated by us. For they all help us by
their prayers, but these help us also by their suffering."15 At the same
time as the tombs of the saints gained in importance, the liturgy was expanded to include
recognition of these ritual translations of the martyrs.16
As the cult of the martyrs grew, bishops took on the role of organizing "regular
celebrations[s] of the feasts of the saints, whose memory was commemorated on the
anniversary of their death."17 In addition to commemorations, bishops also
acted to control, and sometimes to initiate, the writing of the acta martyrum to
narrate the events of the martyrs' deaths. Sometimes the official trial records were used
in compiling the passio ("the passion of the saint"), and there are also
instances of the martyr's own memoirs being used in creating a passio, as with
Saint Perpetua of Carthage.18 The passio relied on the emotional
narrative to influence its audience, which was usually comprised of Christian believers.
These early martyrs were not canonized in any type of legal ecclesiastical manner, and the
act of calling a martyr "a saint" arose primarily within a local church
associated with that martyr. The very manner of the martyr's deaths granted the person the
title of sanctus (saint) and no other confirmation of saint's intercessory power
was needed. The context of the acta martyrum highlighted for those hearing or
reading the saint's martyrdom the importance of faith in periods of persecution, and these
narratives functioned as texts of consolation for those who were experiencing attacks
against their beliefs. The descriptive events in the passio emphasized the
confession of Christ's death instead of his life as a model worthy of emulation. The
earliest acts of the martyrs were first written in Greek, as were the first Calenders of
martyrs. Later, hagiographers relied on a relatively straight-forward Latin style and
focused their narratives almost exclusively on the death of the martyr and the miracles
associated with the martry in a specific location. However, as the written accounts of
saints began to be passed from church to church, local saints could acquire veneration far
beyond the confines of their own church. Some saints who had suffered martyrdom in
northern Africa, such as Perpetua and Felicity, came to be worshiped in Rome, whereas
others achieved almost world-wide veneration as in the case of St. Lucy. Because of the
possibility of error or abuse in the transmission of the acta martyrum, the Council
of Carthage in 401 "established that every bishop was responsible for overseeing
within his diocese the manifestations of the cult of saints."19 Yet, the
bishop did not have the power to initiate a cult unless there was popular backing for a
particular saint, but only the authority to "combat deviations" from Catholic
One of the most widespread and enduring of the early cults throughout the Middle Ages
is based on the martyrdom of St. Laurence, a deacon of Rome who was tortured to death
during the persecution of Valerian in 258. St. Laurence is mentioned in the Depositio
Martyrum, and his passio was a part of the Roman Legendary's Passion of
Polychonius, compiled perhaps in the sixth century or earlier. St. Laurence was
venerated throughout the Western Europe, and Bede writes that relics of Laurence were sent
to King Oswiu of Northumbria in the seventh century.20 Although Laurence's
historical existence is not doubted, the method of his martyrdom is certainly apocryphal
and represents the conflation of Laurence's acta with those of another saint,
Vincent of Saragossa. However, the passio of Laurence, with its emphasis on the
trial before Valerian and Decius and on the death scene as the saint is roasted alive on a
gridiron, is an excellent example of an early written acta martyrum. The passion
concludes with Laurence confessing his faith in Christ as he dies. This moment defines the
exemplum of the passio for those hearing the story of the martyr's death and the
believers in turn express their assurance in the power of saint: "Let us pray to him
that he will give us glory, in that place where he reigns in permanent joy, and let us
suffer no peril or pain, or lose sovereign joy because of any act of which we might be
guilty. Rather may he allow us, oh Jesus, to act in such a way that we can have comfort
and the glory of paradise, in that place where you reign and live."21 The
passio contains no post mortem miracles or other references to supernatural events
that would detract from the emotional impact of the martyrdom.
As martyrdom in its original sense became less likely due to the political acceptance
of Christianity within the Roman Empire, it soon came to be asked how a person should be
reckoned a saint and what was the proper authority for making such a decision. The notion
of "sanctity," which had originally been applied to those who gave their lives
confessing their faith in Christ, gradually enlarged to include those who confessed their
faith against the heretics and schismatics of the fourth and fifth centuries. In this age
of confessors, "the term confessor was eventually applied to all those who deserved
to be venerated by the faithful as a result of the pain they had suffered, or inflicted on
themselves, for the love of Christ."22 Asceticism became equated with
martyrdom, and Christian doctrine added the assurance that penitential ascetics suffered
not only to bring themselves closer to heaven but also the expiate the sins of all.
Although strict asceticism had always played a crucial role in Christianity, the monastic
movements throughout the Mediterranean world in the fourth century institutionalized the
role of self-denial. Fleeing the "vanity" of society, monks (from the Greek m o n a c o V , "he who lives alone") set out to found new lives in the
Egyptian desert and other desolate places. The ascetic entered into a life devoted to
penitential prayer and rigorous discipline in order to purify both body and soul. Seeking
solitude from the affairs of the world, some ascetics chose to live as recluses in caves,
while others formed eremitical communities designed to support solitude. Eventually, those
persons who practiced this life of self-denial, known as "white" or bloodless
martyrdom, began to be venerated "not so much for what they had accomplished for
their own souls as for what they might do for the faithful."23 Several
hagiographic writings about the Egyptian monks, such as the anonymous Lives of the
Desert Fathers and Palladius's Lausiac History, were circulated in Palestine
and Syria.24 Eventually these works were translated into Latin and spread the
ascetic ideal into Gaul and Iberia, and finally into Britain and Ireland.
The earliest ascetic hagiographic model can be found in The Life of Antony of Egypt by Athanasius.25 Born in 251, Antony chose to renounce his wealthy inheritance
at the age of 20 in order to live as an ascetic in complete solitude in a deserted fort at
Pispir. After about 20 years, Antony left his solitude to form a monastery with the
disciples who had gathered around him. He is described as living a life of simple
austerity which emphasized the love of God before all earthly matters. Although Antony was
buried in a secret place, in 561 his relics were found and translated to Alexandria. He
was immensely popular in the Middle Ages and his vita was designed to teach
monasticism and orthodoxy to others. The didactic nature of Antony's life is emphasized by
Athanasiaus when he states, "Read these things now to the other brothers so that they
may learn what the life of the monks ought to be
.And if the need arises, read this
to the pagans as well, so they may understand by this means that our Lord Jesus Christ is
God."26 In the Life of Antony, the title of sanctus becomes
associated with one who confessed or taught the Christian faith.
The ascetic ideal also found fertile ground in the early Celtic church in Ireland. With
the coming of St. Patrick to Ireland in 432, Christianity took root without blood being
shed for the Christian faith. As the earliest written models of sanctitiy for the Irish
were the acta martyrum of the contentintal martyrs, the Irish were placed in a
situation that required them to adapt the definition of "saint" to their own
culture. In the fifth and early six centuries, a new form of asceticism emerged in the
Celtic church and was termed "green martyrdom." Based on the model of the desert
fathers of Egypt, "Green Martyrs were those who, leaving behind the comforts and
pleasures of ordinary human society, retreated to the woods, or to the mountaintop, or to
a lonely islandto one of the green no-man's-lands outside tribal
jursidictionsthere to study the scriptures and commune with God."27 Irish literature is filled with the stories of men such as Macanisius, a hermit at Kells
and supposed disciple of St. Patrick, who lived in isolation and prayer.28 Another of St. Patrick's converts, St. Manchan of Offaly, is credited with writing a poem
in Irish that describes the desire of the green martyrs:
Grant me sweet Christ the grace to find
Son of the living God!
A small hut in a lonesome spot
To make it my abode.
A little pool but very clear
To stand beside the place
Where all men's sins are washed away
By sanctifying grace.29
The solitary ascetic could acquire over time disciples who would build small huts near
the hermit. Scilg Mhichél (Skellig Michale), a barren rock eight miles out in the
Atlantic off the coast of Co. Kerry, contains the remnants of "beehive-shaped cells,
the chapel, and the tiny graveyard of the monks" who inhabited this
"desert."30 As communities developed around the holy ascetic, his
solitary retreat, his deserta, uaimh, spelunca or martyrium,
often developed into a monastic center. The vita of St. Martin of Tours illustrates
the evolution of the ascetic ideal beginning with the community in the caves of Ligugé
and progressing finally to the establishment of the monastery at Tours. The same path of
asceticism can also be traced in St. Kentigern's life. The thread of solitary penance
continued to be present after the formation of monastic communities based on the Rule of
St. Benedict. St. Cuthbert sought an even more remote location than Lindisfarne "to
retire to the secrecy of solitude which he had so long coveted."31 Many of
the Celtic vitae incorporate narratives of the saints that describe their periodic
journeys to places of solitude, especially during the days of Lent, in order to practice a
more strict form of asceticism. Chapter 17 of Kentigern's vita contains an exemplary
account of the desire of these saintly men to withdraw from the world and "be
concealed in the presence of God."
Some of these green martyrs choose to follow a path of voluntary exile in order to find
a place of solitude. Leaving Ireland in small curraghs, these ascetics "allowed the
winds and currents to bear them where they would."32 This emphasis on
pilgrimage also included a strong desire to spread the gospel. According to Gildas, the
Celtic missionaries believed that "to voyage over the seas, and to pace over broad
tracts of land was not so much a weariness as a delight."33 The importance
of making peregrinatio pro Dei amore was one of the defining characteristics of
Celtic Christianity even into the ninth and tenth centuries as attested in the Anglo-Saxon
Chronicle in the year 891:
And three Irishmen came to king Alfred in a boat without any oars (sine omni
gubernatione humana) from Ireland, whence they had stolen away because they wished for
the love of God to be on pilgrimage, they cared not where. The boat in which they set out
was made of two and a half hides (in nauicula facta de duobus coriis et dimidio),
and they had taken with them provisions for a week and after a week they came to land in
Cornwall, and soon went to king Alfred.34
By this method of asceticism, exile, and journeying, Celtic monastic communities were
founded at Iona, Lindisfarne, the Orkney, Shetland, and Faeroe Islands and Iceland, as
well as communities on the Continent such as Anegray and Bobbio.
As Christianity spread throughout Western Europe, "sanctity was also ascribed to
those who spread the gospel among the heathen or who governed the church with piety."35 The bishop-confessors were the focal points of cults that emphasized a sainthood not only
grounded in the ascetic ideal, but also in the role of protector of the faithful. When the
Roman empire began to crumble, local bishops were endowed with an increased sanctity as
"the supreme defensores civitatis between the fifth and the eighth
centuries."36 This perception of bishops can be viewed as an extension of
secular patronage. With the old forms of civil ties disintegrating under the rise of the
Merovingian kingdoms, the bishop inhabited the role of protector against "a monarchy
inclined to abuse its strength and impose excessive taxes on its new subjects."37 As defenders of the faithful, the saints were wrappped in the mantle of a soldier and
contextualized as warriors of God. Hagiographers looked for military tropes in which to
imbue their subjects and new hagiographic characteristics appeared in the vitae. The
Life of Saint Martin by Sulpicius Severus became one such model for hagiographers to
imitate.38 St. Martin was born about 336 and as a youth, he "served in the
soldiery that uses earthly weapons, in the cavalry of the Imperial Guard under the Emperor
Constantius, and afterward under the Caesar Julian."39 Even at this time,
Martin practiced such an ascetic lifestyle that "he was regarded as a monk rather
than as a soldier."40 Eventually Martin renounces his military career with
an impassioned oath to Julian: "I have been your soldier up to now. Let me now be
God's. Let someone who is going to fight have your bonus. I am Christ's soldier."41 Sulpicius consciously blends the ideal of the ascetic with the ethos of the soldier to
construct Martin as a warrior in divine service. As this model of sanctity gained in
popularity, these ascetic saints were perceived as serving as noble members of a divine
court in the guise of milites Christi, "the soldiers of Christ." Such
warriors are depicted in hagiography as heroes fighting against the enemies of God in this
world by confessing the doctrine of Christianity, and the hagiographer would draw on both
scripture and secular heroic ideals in formulating the representation of the perfect holy
soldier. As seen in the later eighth century Anglo-Saxon Life of St. Guthlac, the
depiction of the secular hero as one who is soðfæste ("steadfast in
truth") is recontextualized by hagiographers to apply to the soldier of God. Even as
the heroic warrior, such as a Beowulf or a Byrhtwold, stands firm in battle and receives
the glory of eternal fame, so also the miles Christi is presented with an
everlasting reward: "Thus the souls of those steadfast in truth will be able to
ascend into an everlasting abode in the kingdom of the skies, those who here carry through
in words and in works the abiding precepts of the King of glory, and in their lifetime
earn on earth eternal life and a home in the heights. These are men of the sacrament, the
chosen warriors dear to Christ."42 In appropriating the secular heroic
epic as a foundation for the vitae, hagiographers were able to provide a moral
exemplum for their audiences that was familiar and acceptable to the warrior ethos of
societies who culted these saints.
The interweaving of earthly and heavenly topoi is prevalent in the vita of St. Germanus of Auxerre. This life, written sometime between 475 and 480 by Constantius
of Lyon, continues to tradition of the miles Christi begun by Sulpicius, and the
narrative acts as a bridge between Continental and British saints' lives. As with the life
of St. Martin, Germanus is portrayed as a wonder-working bishop. However, unlike Martin,
Germanus came from the Gallic aristocracy, a characteristic that will be emphasized in
both Celtic and Anglo-Saxon hagiography. Constantius writes that Germanus received a
liberal education in both Gaul and Rome, and "when he was at the height of his
reputation in the legal profession, the state promoted him to official rank by conferring
on him the supreme office of dux and the rule over more than one province."43 Germanus is raised to the office of bishop by "all the clergy, the whole nobility,
the townsfolk and the countryfolk," and surrenders his place in "the earthly
militia to be enrolled in the heavenly."44 However, Germanus' military
expertise is highlighted by Constantius when the bishop raises an army in Britain to fight
against the Saxons and the Picts:
By now the savage host of the enemy was close at hand and Germanus rapidly circulated
an order that all should repeat in unison the call he would give as a battle-cry. Then,
while the enemy were still secure in the belief that their approach was unexpected, the
bishops three times chanted the Alleluia. All, as one man, repeated it and the shout they
raised rang through the air and was repeated many times in the confined space between the
The enemy were panic-stricken, thinking that the surrounding rocks and the very sky
itself were falling on them. Such was their terror that no effort of their feet seemed
enough to save them. They fled in every direction, throwing away their weapons and
thankful if they could save at least their skins. Many threw themselves into the river
which they had just crossed at their ease, and were drowned in it.
Thus the British army looked on at its revenge without striking a blow, idle spectators
of the victory achieved. The booty strewn everywhere was collected; the pious soldiery
obtained the spoils of a victory from heaven. The bishops were elated at the rout of the
enemy without bloodshed and a victory gained by faith and not by force.45
Germanus' martial exploits are also emphasized by Constantius when the bishop refutes
the heresy of Pelagius in Britain.46 The model of the ascetic miles Christi became the accepted hagiographic ideal as evidenced by the multitude of later saints'
lives that follow the construct of sanctity outlined by Athanasius, Sulpicius, and
Constantius.47 Jocelyn draws on the portrait of the holy warrior in his
description of Kentigern in Chapter 19. Using both scriptural and secular traditions,
Jocelyn draws a vivid picture of Kentigern armed as a soldier of Christ in battle against
Satan, "the prince of this world."
The power of the saints stemmed originally from the Roman concept of patronage. As a
divine patron, the saint could intercede on behalf of his or her followers to win favor
for them in the heavenly court of God. The saint also had the power to distribute gifts,
especially healing, as a form of patronage, and the texts of the vitae are filled
with accounts of the largesse of the saint. St. Martin raises a catechumen from the dead.
St. Germanus gives sight to a blind child. Twelve poor beggers have their thirst quenched
in the vita of St. Willibrord by a wine flask that never runs dry. Kentigern
provides grain from sand for his monastic community. Water miracuously bubbles out of a
rock where St. Columba prayed. Both the holy actions of a saint's life and the miracles
performed by that saint posthumously are described by the Latin virtus,
"virtue" or "power," although after a saint died, his or her power was
seen to be even greater than when the saint physically was present on earth. Since the
saints were the defenders of the faithful, "they continued to do so after death,
assisting [the faithful], when the time came, to obtain celestial citizenship. So a link
was established between the towns of the West and certain saintly prelates, which soon
acquired a collective and permanent dimension."48 In a very real sense, a
unity existed in the West between the living and the dead. The commemoration of names in
liturgy, the preservation of the acts of the saints in martyrologies, and the recollection
of the past deeds of saints at their tombs all allowed the dead to live on in society. As
Oexle has pointed out, "The pronunciation of the name of the dead was more than
simply recollection: it was the means by which the dead were made present."49 The power possessed by the hermits and confessors after death was seen by followers of
their cults as a direct result of the ascetic manner in which they had lived. In Jocelyn's Life of Saint Kentigern, however, this crucial narrative of post mortem miracles is missing. Instead, Jocelyn chooses to repeat a tale in which the prophet
Myrddin, the wild man of Celtic literature, is prominent. This divergence from the usual
model will be discussed later in Section Five of the thesis as the implications of this
rhetorical strategy pertain more to Jocelyn's possible motivations for using certain oral
traditions in his construction of Kentigern.
Saints occupied a place in heaven, but their followers also perceived them as present
in the shrine of the cult where their relics were displayed. These bodies of saints and
their relics, that is either actual portions of their bodies or objects that had been in
close contact with them became, in the West, the central focus of religious devotion.50 The eighth century Libri Carolini, a polemical treatise composed as a refutation of
the Eastern Church's use of icons, asserts that veneration was to be reserved for relics
alone: "They [the Greeks] place almost all the hope of their credulity in images, but
it remains firm that we venerate the saints in their bodies or better in their relics, or
even in their clothing, in the ancient traditon of the Fathers."51 As
Christianity moved into northern Europe, there was a corresponding transformation of
sacred places. Since the spread of Christianity had been accomplished with little shedding
of blood on the side of the missionaries, Christian areas in northern Europe did not have
access to the centers of sanctity which abounded in the old Roman towns of Gaul, Spain,
and Italy. Whereas the Roman cemetaries contained martyrs and holy persons, which assured
these places the title of sacred ground, the sacred sites of northern Europe were sacred
only in pagan tradition. Beginning in the eighth century, relics began to be divided up
and moved in order to accommodate the need for newly consecrated churches to lay claim to
the power and prestige of the saints. The major implication of this movement was that
"sacred places could now be created by the transfer of holy men of the past to new
sites with which they had never before been associated, in life or in death."52 It should also be noted that the distribution of relics was an essential key to
ecclesiastical control over the "chosen image of sanctity and [the episcopate's]
ideal of the relationship between the sacred and the profane."53
The tomb and its relic was "a locus where earth and heaven met in the
person of the dead, made plain by some manifestation of supernatural powersome virtusof
some miraculum, some wonderful happening."54 The inscription on the
tomb of Saint Martin of Tours reads, "Here is Bishop Martin of sacred memory, whose
soul is in the hand of God. But he is completely present here, made manifest to everyone
by the goodwill of his miracles."55 But while the patron saints would
provide miracles and wonders to those who prayed to them, it was up to their followers to
grant to the saints reverence and festivals, gifts and feasts. The services of the living
for the saints took two primary forms: liturgical and veneration. Each cultus would
commemorate its saint with an annual feast on the day of the saint's death. This service
would include "prayers, readings taken from the life of the saint, and sometimes
processions in which the bodies of the saints were carried around the church that
sheltered their remains."56 Jocelyn makes clear the importance of giving
proper veneration to the saints of their feast days when he recounts in Chapter 44 that
"many have felt in themselves very frequently the vengeance of their sin when they
presumed to scorn with any servile labor [Kentigern's] day of festival." The
veneration of a saint's relics was especially important as these provided the physical
link between the spiritual and the material worlds. Relics of the saints, which included
any physical objects associated with a saint no matter how small or insignificant, were
incorporated into the formal worship early in the history of the church, and "it was
reiterated by the Seventh General Council of Nicaea in 787 that every
consecrated church should have a relic placed in its altar."57 However,
the veneration shown to the saints, especially in those areas newly converted to
Christianity in the eighth and ninth centuries, suggests that popular piety tended to take
the form of pagan practices. St. Boniface tried to stem the pre-Christian practices
associated with the cult of the saints and decreed in 742 that "in accordance with
the canons each bishop should take care
that the people of God should not do pagan
things but should abandon and repudiate all the filthy practices of the gentiles, be it
sacrifices to the dead or divination or immolation of sacrificial animals, things which
ignorant people do in the pagan way next to churches in the name of the holy martyrs or
confessors."58 In order to deal with the exploitation of popular piety and
improper cult practices, episcopal authority was used to standardize, regulate, and
promote the cult of the saints to the advantage of the Roman Church.
One form of standardization included the initiation of written translationes,
texts that described the translation of relics from one place to another. Sometimes these
texts contain elaborate explanations as to how "saints who had lived and died in
distant areas had come to rest in local churches."59 The translation of
some saints was attributed to supernatural intervention on the part of the saint, as when
a saint had miraculously made manifest his or her intention of being transferred to a new
location, often because of insufficient veneration in the place of original interment.
This is the case in the translation accounts of Mary Magdalene and St. Benedict at Fleury.
The translation narrative of St. Boniface by Willibald is typical of such writings in the
eighth and ninth centuries. After vividly describing the martyrdom of Boniface and his
companions at the hands of a pagan mob, Willibald explains how the relics of Boniface came
to the city of Mainz:
The bodies of the holy bishop [Boniface] and of the other martyrs were brought by boat
across the water called Aelmere, an uneventful voyage of some days, to the above-mentioned
city that is called Utrecht. There the bodies were deposited and interred until some
religious and trustworthy men of God arrived from Mainz. From there they had been sent in
a ship by Bishop Lull, the successor of our holy bishop and martyr, to bring the body of
the saint to the monastery built by him during his lifetime on the banks of the river
The venerable and holy company came to the above-mentioned city [Utrecht] and was met
by a small throng of people. But the count of the city declared in the hearing of all that
an edict had been issued by King Pepin forbidding anyone to remove the body of Bishop
Boniface from that place. As, however, the power of Almighty God is greater than the
strength of men, suddenly in their presence a marvelous miracle took place, wrought
through angelic rather than human intervention. The bell of the church, untouched by human
hands, began to ring, as if the body of the saint was issuing a warning; and every person
present, smitten by a sudden feeling of awe, was struck with terror and cried out that the
body of this holy man should be given up. The body, consequently, was handed over at once
and was taken away in great honor by the brethren already mentioned. And so, to the
accompaniment of psalms, and hymns, without having to row against the current of the
stream, the body was brought, thirty days after the saint's decease, to the city of Mainz.60
The accounts of the translations of relics fulfilled an important justification of the
motives of those who were transferring the saints to new resting places. As seen in the
text of St. Boniface, it was not unusual for there to be a rivalry between persons and
religious communities over the possession of relics. Local communities were unwilling to
have their "protector" removed, and communities where relics were translated
wondered how powerful such a saint could be who allowed himself to be translated. Issues
of prestige and economy also played their part in the tension between communities. The
translation narratives can be seen as a further elaboration of the hagiographic material
that was accreted to the vitae of saints in an effort to provide a supernatural
impetus to the mobility of relics. Jocelyn, however, again diverges from the usual
hagiographic model and does not provide a narrative of the translation of Kentigern's
body. Instead, Jocelyn states in his preface that he could not discover an account of the
translation. The reason behind such a statement possibly stems from Jocelyn's
unwillingness to include "fables" in his narrative, since such tales detracted
from his representation of Kentigern as the ideal warrior saint. As with the absence of post
mortem miracles, the untold account of Kentigern's translation raises many questions
as to Jocelyn's editorial practices in composing this vita.
As the cult of the saints grew, the need for extolling the virtues of the saints also
expanded. But whereas the passio of the martyr provided the impetus for the early
saints, the bishop-confessor required a more complete life in order to be given the
services reserved for those declared sanctus. Hagiographers began to focus the
narrative of the saints' lives on the piety and humility exhibited by Christ during his
life. Poverty, healings, and the overcoming of earthly temptations were emphasized as the
visible signs of the saintly life. It is important to note that the majority of the
confessor saints began as local cults and their legends arose from local, usually oral,
traditions. The localized strands of narrative would be woven into the text of an
"official" biography, and this reliance on oral tradition may account for the
many derivations among later saints' vitae. The text of a saint's life
"provides a documentary witness to the process of sanctification for the community
and in so doing becomes itself a part of the sacred tradition it served to document."61 The hagiographer had to rely on the ethos of the saint's life in order for the text
to gain new converts to the cult. Yet, the author of a vita also had to conform to
the standards instituted by the local community even as he acted to "terminate
unsanctioned oral tradition and coalesce the myth-making powers of the community around
[the text's] paradigms."62 The tension between the local legends and
ecclesiastical doctrine provides the basic material for understanding the cultures that
produced these written sacred lives. The Life of Saint Kentigern is one such text
that provides important insights into the development of a saint's cult in early Scotland
as well as clues to the society in which the legends of this saint circulated.
Historical Context of Kentigern, Apostle to Strathclyde
The history of the kingdom of Strathclyde, from the withdrawal of the Roman legions
until its eventual annexation into the medieval kingdom of Scotland in the eleventh
century, is filled with obscure references, unknown names, and little documentation in the
way of written sources. Exactly when this kingdom was formed is still open to debate,
although Alfred Smyth makes a good case for placing the origins of the Strathclyde kingdom
as early as the 380s "as part of a gradual recovery and expansion of Brigantian
tribalism which persisted right through the Roman period in the remoter parts of Cumbria
and the Pennine chain."63 There was a cultural and linguistic unity that
extended over the whole of southern Scotland and western England in the fifth and sixth
centuries. As Nora Chadwick has noted, "A traveller could have set off from
Edinburgh, and walked through Cumberland, and along the Welsh Border to Land's End, and he
would have had no difficulty in making himself understood all the way."64 However, there is no extant written literature of these northern societies stemming from
their place of origin. Instead, the information possessed today on the northern British
kingdoms was preserved in Welsh literature. The heroic tradition of these "Men of the
North" 65 has been preserved in the poetry of the sixth century
bardsTaliesin and Aneirin as panegyrics or elegiaces. Aneirin celebrated the heroes of
Caer Eidyn (modern Edinburgh) and its ruler Mynyddawg Mwynfawr. Taliesin was bard to Urien
of Rheged, probably the most famous of the "Men of the North," and to his son
Owain. This poetic tradition offers a glimpse into the society that flourished in the
southwestern part of Scotland in what has been historically called "Dark Age"
Late sixth century Strathclyde, the locus for Jocelyn's Life of Saint
Kentigern, was a kingdom under seige. When the Roman legions departed, the British
were faced with defending a territory that stretched from Scotland to Cornwall. The
Antonnine Wall, built about A.D. 142 and stretching from the Firth of Forth to the Firth
of Clyde, was protected at either end by two British families that figure prominently in
the Welsh literature. The western fortress of Dumbarton, "The Dún or citadel of the
Britons," was the residence of a dynasty that lasted for centuries and occupied both
Strathclyde and Galloway. The eastern end of the wall was guarded by a native British
hill-fort known as Dumpelder. Both fortresses will be important landmarks in Kentigern's vita.
Sometime early in the sixth century, the Anglo-Saxons penetrated into the British
territory of northern England and southern Scotland. According to Bede, the traditional
date for the foundation of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Bernicia is 547, and its stronghold
on the rock of Bamburgh threatened the territory of the British kingdom of Gododdin. After
the Angles had defeated the Celtic kingdom of Gododdin at Catterick about 600, there was a
relentless Anglo-Saxon push into lower Scotland. It would not be until 685 that "the
Strathclyde Britons, through Bridei mac Bili, successfully rallied the Picts and perhaps
also the shattered warband of Gododdin into finally halting the Anglo-Saxon advance into
northern Britain" at the battle of Dunnichen Moss.67 To the north of
Strathclyde, the kingdom of Dál Riata continued to expand its influence until 642, when
Owen, king of Strathclyde, slew Domnall Brecc, king of Scots Dál Riata at the battle of
Strathcarron.68 Kentigern's ministry, spanning the late six and early seventh
centuries and stretching from Edinburgh to Culross to south Wales and finally to Glasgow
and Dumbarton, takes place against the backdrop of the northern British kingdoms fighting
to retain their borders against enemies on all sides.
The society of Strathclyde at this time can be described as "heroic," and was
based upon an aristocratic warrior culture for which "the accepted morality is
courage and fierceness in war, generosity and liberality in peace, a longing for fame, a
horror of disgrace, and a welcome for death in a fight provided it leads to an immortal
glory."69 The extant poetry tells little of the political organization or
affairs of the British kingdoms, but the poems have much to say concerning the individual
deeds of heroes, "whose prowesss in battle and loyalty to their leaders, or
generosity to their followers, has made them worthy of the praise of the bards."70 These heroic characteristics are seen in a passage from The Gododdin which
describes a hero, "steady in guarding the ford, [who] was glad when he bore off the
honored portion in the palace."71 Jackson believes this passage reflects a
custom similar to "that of the early Irish cuadmír whereby the best and most
famous warrior present was allotted the best portion of meat served at the feast."72 Similar heroic descriptions are found in Anglo-Saxon and Irish literature. The feasting
associated with Aneiren's presentation of Mynyddog and his warriors parallels the
celebration at Heorot in Beowulf and "Bricriu's Feast" from the Ulster
Cycle. The primary activities of the warriors consisted of defending their chief in
battle, and their memory would be disgraced if the chief were killed and they did not die
fighting to save him. In return for this military service, the lord supplied them with
board and lodging, weapons, presents, and feasts.73 The lord, or tiern,
achieved his prestige by prowess on the battlefield. But when the lord "ceased to be
what Taliesin called a "distributor," as soon as he proved incapable of leading
his warrriors to victory, some bolder or more self-important rival would appear to take
his place."74 Immortality for a warrior was achieved by having his name
elegized for his courage by the bards after his death. With the coming of Christianity,
these heroic characteristics would find their way into the descriptions of the early
saints as the ideal warrior was transformed from a secular to a sacred person. The
discussion of Celtic saints in Section Five expands on this transformation of the hero
into the saint.
The Welsh triads catalog the exploits of the northern chiefs and provide genealogies
that link the British and Welsh dynasties of the sixth century. A poetic connection
between Strathclyde and Wales has been effectively proven in tracing the dissemination of
the story of the Battle of Catterick from Edinburgh to Rheged. There
is evidence that the legends of the "Men of the North" were retained in
Strathclyde, either at the political capital of Dumbarton or at the ecclesiastical center
of Glasgow, before finding their final home in northern Wales. Such heroic traditions
would have been welcome additions to the repertoire of the bards and scribes, especially
if there were lines of kinship between Lothian, Strathclyde, and the Welsh kingdoms. Many
of the Welsh saints claim a North British ancestry that dates to the fifth century when
Cunedda of Gododdin and his sons came to Wales to drive out the Irish.75 The
people of this area spoke a Brittonic, or early Welsh, language, and maintained contacts
with the Celtic kingdoms in Wales and with Ireland.76 This interaction between
the Celtic peoples of Strathclyde and Wales will play an important role in analyzing the
Celtic traditions imbedded in Jocelyn's Life of Saint Kentigern, and the effect of
that material upon Jocelyn's audience.
Very little written material relating to the British church has survived from the sixth
and seventh centuries, leaving later scholars with only fleeting glimpses of this period
in the surviving literature of the Irish and Welsh annals. The archaeological evidence
concerning the early British church is also meagre, and only hint to the existence of
Christians in Scotland before the fifth century.77 Undoubtedly the Celtic
peoples had been converted to Christianity as citizens of the Roman Empire. St. Patrick, a
native of either Strathclyde or Solway, was the son of a deacon and the grandson of a
priest. However, the majority of the rural population continued to practice paganism, and
sanctuaries dedicated to Celtic gods, such as Nodens, date from the last years of the
Empire. Even a few Druidic sanctuaries were restored during this time,78 while
British Christians were building a church in honor of the British martyr St. Alban at
Verulamium. Using the writings of Bede and Saint Patrick's letter to Coroticus as
reference points, a tentative conclusion can be reached that there were Christian
communities at Whithorn and Dumbarton, and perhaps a few other places in southwestern
Scotland by the middle of the fifth century.79 According to Bede, St. Columba
went "to preach the word of God" to the Picts north of the Antonine Wall:
for the southern Picts, who dwell on this side of those mountains, had long
before, as is reported, forsaken the errors of idolatry, and embraced the truth, by the
preaching of Ninias, a most reverend bishop and holy man of the British nation, who had
been regularly instructed at Rome, in the faith and mysteries of the truth; whose
episcopal see, named after St. Martin the bishop, and famous for a stately church (wherein
he and many other saints rest in the body), is still in existence among the English
nation. The place belongs to the province of the Bernicians, and is generally called the
White House, because he there built a church of stone, which was not usual among the
The community formed by Ninian at Whithorn in Galloway probably continued in some form
until the revival of the bishopric in the eighth century after the Northumbrian conquest.
But this sixth century outpost of Christianity and other such communities were not a part
of a centralized Celtic church, nor is there any evidence of a single Celtic Christian
doctrine practiced by all the people within Celtic areas. By the mid-sixth century, these
Christian conclaves would have been cut off from the developments on the European
continent due to the continuing, albeit sporadic, incursions of Picts, Scots, and Angles
into the formerly Celtic areas of Britain since the middle of the fifth century and the
disruptions of society that such raids caused. It is possible to infer that the isolation
of the Christians in this area led to their instituting rites and doctrines that were
contrary to the peculiar beliefs and practices of the Roman Church.
However, the question of the validity of an organized Celtic Church has been much
debated. Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica is often cited as evidence for the
existience of a unified Celtic church directed by a hierarchy of bishops before the coming
of Augustine to England. Bede writes that there were insurmountable differences between
the traditions of the British church and the Roman doctrine brought to Anglo-Saxon England
by St. Augustine in the late sixth century. These disputes between the two systems of
Christianity included the date of the observance of Easter, the clerical tonsure, and
certain generalized observations in ritual and doctrine.81 The ecclesiastical
hierarchy of the Celtic church also differed from that of the Roman Church. Rome divided
its episcopal dioceses based closely on the administrative divisions of the Empire with
the bishop having authority over the members of his see. The British hierarchy was
centered around a system of abbot-bishops with the church administration placed within a
monastic framework, but even abbots who were not bishops exercisized authority over all
other members of the monastic community. In this situation, the bishop functioned only in
spiritual matters. On the other hand, there were also bishops who did not live in
monasteries and they "evidently acted as spiritual helpers to Christians whom they
served as counsellors and whom they led in worship."82 These bishops were
under the jurisdiction of no authority, and they freely travelled throughout all the
St. Patrick consecrated the first bishops in Ireland, and these clergy passed on their
authority through a simple rite of ordination. "When a layman or a deacon who showed
potential abilities was considered to be a suitable candidate for the position of
presbyter or bishop, he was consecreated immediately."83 No record of the
ritual of ordination had survived, although Gildas did describe the readings of Scripture
used during ordination in his time. It was also the Celtic custom to anoint the hands of
deacons and priests at the time of their ordination into religious orders.84 F.
E. Warren states that the "anointing of the hands at the ordination of deacons is not
found in any form of the Roman Ordinal, ancient or modern, nor in any Gallican
Ordinal."85 According to Hardinge, the baptism by Celtic bishops was
considered invalid by the Roman Church, probably due to the customary ritual of ordaining
Celtic bishops with only one other bishop in attendance.86 Jocelyn acknowledges
the unorthodoxy associated with the ordination of Celtic bishops in Chapter 11 of
Kentigern's vita. However, Jocelyn seems to have been thinking of the manner of
Kentigern's anointing when he states, "Yet although the consecration to which the
Britons were accustomed seems less than harmonious with the sacred canons, nevertheless it
is established that it does not lose the power and effect of the divine mystery or the
The differences in ritual and doctrine between the two systems of Christianity do not
address the question of whether there was an organized Celtic Church flourishing in some
parts of Scotland in the latter part of the sixth century. By examining the descriptions
provided by Jocelyn in the writing of Kentigern's life, it can be argued that there was no
Celtic institution with a unified system of beliefs and practices operating in
Strathclyde, although some outposts of Christianity remained active. Since there was no
central control over these Christian conclaves, each community would develop their own
views on Christian life, and "eclecticism and pragmatism would mark the early beliefs
and practices of Celtic Christians. As teachers developed, they interpreted the scriptures
as they felt best."88 This pragmatism can be found in the descriptions of
Kentigern's ordination and the emphasis in the narrative on those who "had gone
astray from the whole faith by some erratic doctrine of a heretical sect."89 These
episodes imply that some type of Christianity continued to function in Strathclyde up to
the arrival of Kentigern in the late sixth century, but the lack of exchange with Rome had
brought about local derivations in doctrine and ritual observances. Instead, as
Kentigern's ordination as bishop suggests, the "church" in Strathclyde looked
westward to Ireland and followed the example of the Celtic Church in name if not always in
The "heresy" which Kentigern is described as fighting against is not named in
his vita although a good candidate would probably be Pelagianism. Pelagius was a
British monk who taught in Rome in the late fourth and early fifth centuries. He was
accused of believing that humans could achieve good deeds and right actions with the aid
of their rational minds. Pelagius' theory of "Free Will, his denial of the value of
grace and his rejection of the concept of original sin" were bound to appeal to the
independent nature of the Celtic peoples. In Possidius' Life of Saint Augustine,
the heretical Pelagians are described as "plausible debaters, still more subtle and
pernicious writers, and untiring talkers in public and in the homes of the people."90 Pelagianism seems to have taken root firmly in Britain as the following episode from Saint
Germanus' life makes clear:
About this time (429) a deputation from Britain came to tell the bishops of Gaul that
the heresy of Pelagius had taken hold of the people over a great part of the country and
help ought to be brought to the Catholic faith as soon as possible.91
Saint Germanus is sent to Britain and refutes the preachers of the heresy. Although the
author of this vita confidently relates that "this damnable heresy had been
thus stamped out of Britain,"92 the continued references to
"heresy" and "heretical doctrine" in the Life of Saint Kentigern imply
that Pelagianism maintained a continued presence in Britain.93
The sixth century world of St. Kentigern would have changed little from the time of the
withdrawl of the Roman Legions. Social rank was measured by skill in warfare, and even
though "every member of the tribe had a say in the choice of leader,
only the warriors exercised this right."94 There were very few settled
areas, and most communities gathered in hilltop fortifications during times of war. The
ramparts of these hill forts took different forms. They could be constructed of earth and
stone banks or in areas were stone was plentiful, rock could be piled up to form the
defences. According to Chadwick, "The most interesting of the earlier defensive
structures of Scotland are the tower-like brochs; but these are essentially of the Iron
Age or Roman periods, and only known to have been occasionally used later."95 Markale
also describes the system of fortification known as vitrification that was used in the
sixth century although it dates back to the end of Bronze Age (c. 800 B.C.):
The core of the rampart was made of a hard, compact mass of stone which was heated
until it looked like thick, rough glass. Obviously the heating process took place in
situ. The builders must have piled up the stone and sand with wood and then set light
to it. As archaeologists have pointed out, the process presented great technical
difficulties, but the result was an impregnable wall. The process of vitrification
presumably gave rise to the names Urbs Vitrea, Kaer Gutrin and the Royaume
de Gorre, or all those cities of glass mentioned in the Arthurian romances and in the
Celtic tradition generally.96
There were also simpler fortifications known as "ring forts," but these
fortifications are typically found north of the Antonine Wall. Eventually some of the hill
forts became permanent settlements and places of assembly. As few remains of buildings
from this era have been discovered, the note by Jocelyn that buildings were constructed of
wood would seem to be confirmed.
Plowing with oxen provided the main basis for agriculture, although the labor required
to clear the land for planting would have necessitated the working together of several
laborers, which implies some type of community organization.97 Ownership of
land rested with the tribe, and "the boundaries of communal land remained
ill-defined, since its extent would depend on the ability of the tribe to maintain
it."98 The story of the field plowed by stags in Chapter 20 of Jocelyn's Life may possibly allude to at least a two-field rotation of crops. The main agricultural
staple was wheat, with references being made to milk and cheese in the narrative of
Kentigern's vita. This description follows the historical evidence for the
homestead of the lower classes, which "consists of two circular stone huts within an
oval walled enclosure, whose occupants grew grain on a terrace at a lower level, and kept
cattle on higher ground hard by."99 The men of power whom Kentigern
interacts with throughout his life follow the pattern of warchiefs laid out in the poetry
of Taliesin and Aneirin, especially in the descriptions of the feasts of such men. Lastly,
although the ritual described in Chapter 33 relating to King Rederech giving
"homage" to Saint Kentigern is obviously late, and Jocelyn may very well have
been drawing on his own personal knowledge in narrating this event, the expression that
the prince of Cumbria was subject to the bishop "as long as the Cambrian kingdom
endured in its own rank" must incorporate some memory that is much older than the
rite itself. Since the kingdom of Strathclyde did not unite with Scotland until1018, this
passage "has the air of representing some fact, whatever it really means, which was
remembered in Glasgow after [the kingdom of Strathclyde] ceased to exist."100
The importance of the Life of Saint Kentigern resides in the text as an artifact
of the beliefs of the society at the time of the writing of the vita. However,
literacy in sixth century Strathclyde, to judge by the number of extant texts, was
non-existent. Traditions, whether they be secular or sacred, were passed on in an oral
context. Yet there remains a deep suspicion of oral tradition by those societies that rely
on the written word. This attitude of dismissing or trivializing orality can be seen in
Gregory the Great's statement, "Quod loquimur transit, quod scribimus permanet."101 As regards the oral tradition, "what matters above all to the people to whom this
tradition belongs is their belief in, their conviction of, the authenticity of their
traditon and its transmission."102 For the medieval hagiographer, the
beliefs of his audience, who were grounded in their own oral narratives of a saint, had to
be given some measure of acknowledgment. On the other hand, the Church increasingly used
written texts as a means to establish norms for a Christian way of life. And inevitably
the Latin historical sources, in which the majority of informaton concerning medieval
orality resides, reflect a clash between secular customary lifestyles and Christian
demands. In actuality the ethics of the two systems "should have been irreconcilable,
given that the oral tradition was concerned primarily with life here and now and its
cosmic views were at odds with those of Christianity."103 However, the
large volume of medieval Celtic literature, most of which stems from Ireland although
there is a sizeable quantity representing Wales, is indirect evidence that the inhabitants
of these areas continued to enjoy being entertained with stories of the heroic past. In
one manuscript of the Irish epic the Táin Bó Cúalnge (The Cattle-Raid of
Cooley), there are found two colophons.
The one in Irish reads: "Bendacht ar cech óen mebraigfes go hindraic Táin amlaid
seo ná tuillfe cruth aile furri." (A blessing on every one who shall faithfully
memorize the Táin as it is written here and shall not add any other form to it.) This is
followed by one in Latin: "Sed ego qui scripsi anc historiam aut verius fabulam
quibusdam fidem in hac historia aut fabula non accommodo. Quaedam similia vero, quaedam
non, quaedam ad delectationem stultorum." (But I who have written this history, or
rather this fable, give no credence to the various incidents related in it. For some
things in it are the deceptions of demons, others poetic figments; some are probable,
others improbable; while still others are intended for the delectation of foolish men.)104
The two colophons illustrate the tension between oral traditions and Christian doctrine
found in medieval texts. However, instead of insisting, as Kathleen Hughes suggests, that
"the Christian church had embraced all that was congenial in heroic society, its
honour and generosity, its plendour and display, its enthusiasm, its respect for
learning,"105 or only emphasizing the traditional oral materials that
influenced the Celtic church, it would be more valuable to see the two systems of oral and
written culture as existing side by side with some overlap but without one being subsumed
into the other. This view of oral and written traditions as viable competitors is
prominent within Jocelyn's text as he negotiates between his vision of Kentigern as the
ideal Roman saint and the beliefs of his audience which contradicted his hagiographic
It is also necessary to stress that texts of traditional materials are not oral
tradition in written form, but involve the environment in which the oral material is
performed and passed along. Whereas in written literature the text is fixed, "in oral
culture there is not, as a rule, a fixed verbal text but instead, and characteristically,
potentially infinite variety within the subject area."106 This
understanding of the use of oral traditions within hagiography highlights the role of the
hagiographer as editor. The ability of the writer to choose a particular oral text from an
assortment of competing tales allows for inferences to be made concerning the political
and social context of the saint's life. By examining questions of audience, literacy, and
orality, a literary historian is able to piece together the motivations of the author in
writing hagiographic literature as well as the reception of that text by the intended
Apostle of Strathclyde: A Summary
St. Kentigern is the traditional patron saint of Glasgow Cathedral, and there is little
doubt that he was the patron saint of Strathclyde in the late sixth century. There is much
circumstantial tradition attached to this saint, but little historical information is
known about him. Kentigern's death is attested in the Annales Cambriae for AD 612,
but that is the only early information that can be claimed for him with any certainty. Two vita of Kentigern are extant. The first was written by an anonymous author at the
request of Herbert, Bishop of Glasgow (1147-64). This is a fragmentary Latin life written
in Strathclyde and reflects its Cumbrian context at a time when Brittonic traditions were
still strong. The second life was composed by Jocelyn, a monk of Furness Abbey in
Lancashire, and authorized by his namesake, Bishop Jocelyn of Glasgow (1175-99). The most
likely date for the writing of this life is sometime about 1180 and exhibits the accretion
of Gaelic materials. In addition to these two vitae, there exists an office of the
saint in a breviary (referred to as the Sprouston Breviary) of the late thirteenth
century and the Breviary of Aberdeen, which is dated at the beginning of the
The first life consists of only a prologue and eight chapters that narrate up to the
birth of Kentigern. He is named as the son of Thaneu, daughter of the Lothian king
Leudonus, and Owen, who was the son of Urien. When Thaneu refused to marry, her father
gives her to a swineherd. Since the swineherd is Christian, he respects Thaneu's vow of
virginity, but Owen uses the trick of dressing in women's clothes to get near to Thaneu
and seduce her. Her father discovers Thaneu is pregnant and order her thrown
from the top of the hill called Dumpelder. She is unhurt, however, and next she is
placed in a curragh without sails or oars on the Firth of Forth. Finally she arrives on
the northern bank at Culross, where she gives birth to her son. Thaneu and Kentigern are
adopted by St. Servanus (St. Serf), and Kentigern is declared to be Servanus' successor.
At this point the fragmentary life breaks off.
The rest of Kentigern's life is told by Jocelyn, who for the most part suppresses all
the earlier material concerning Kentigern's birth, opting instead to digress into a long
sermon on the ignorance of those who listen to fables. Jocelyn describes Kentigern's
extraordinary ability in "the discipline of letters" (Chapter 4) and then
devotes the next three chapters to recounting Kentigern's power over death (bringing back
to life a little bird and a cook) and the elements (a tree branch miraculously becoming a
Due to the envy of his fellow students, Kentigern leaves Culross and his teacher St.
Servanus and miraculously parts the waters of the Forth (Chapter 8). Kentigern and St.
Ninian are connected in chapter 9, when Kentigern buries a "just and devout man"
in a cemetery consecrated by Ninian near Glasgow. Chapter 9 is an exemplum for the rewards
for goodness and pride personified in the story of two brothers. Kentigern is consecrated
bishop and begins his missionary work (Chapter 11), and this event is followed by several
chapters that relate Kentigern's manner of preaching and his clothing. Chapter 17 is
especially descriptive of the ascetic life led by Kentigern even after becoming a bishop.
The miracle of plowing the land with a stag is narrated in chapter 20, which is followed
by a second miracle in which the wheat storehouses of King Morken, described in the vita as an usurper and nominal Christian, float down the river Clyde to Kentigern's monastic
community in answer to Kentigern's prayer. Chapter 22 relates how Morken kicked Kentigern
and was punished with death resulting from a "tumor" in his feet.
However, Kentigern is forced into exile because of the "kindred of Morken"
(Chapter 23). He seeks refuge in Wales and visits with St. David. King Cathwallon gives
Kentigern a site for his monastery. Following a white boar (Chapter 24), Kentigern finds a
suitable place for his community, which he calls Nantcharvan. A "heathen
chieftain" named Melconde [Mealgwn], is struck with blindness for trying to force
Kentigern off the land, but he is healed through the intercession of the saint. A young
novice named Asaph brings live coals in his garment to the saint in chapter 25, and his
clothes are not burned. Jocelyn uses this story to further emphasize the purity of
Kentigern and his disciple Asaph. Kentigern sees St. Dewi's death and entrance into heaven
in a vision and prophesizes the future troubles of Britain in chapter 26. During this time
of exile in Wales, Kentigern is said to have visited Rome seven times in order to reaffirm
his ordination as bishop in the presence of Gregory the Great and to seek advice on
Christian doctrine (Chapter 27).
In time, Rederech, who had been baptized in Ireland, became king in Cumbria. Rederech
asks Kentigern to return to his people in Strathclyde (Chapter 29). Kentigern gathers his
disciples and places Asaph over them. Then leaving the monastery with 665 brothers, the
saint returns to Strathclyde (Chapter 31). A "greatest multitude" meets
Kentigern after he crosses into Cumbria, and after he has banished "the skeleton-like
creatures" surrounding the people, Kentigern preaches on a hill at Holdelm [Hoddem],
which rose up miraculously under him so that the people can see the saint (Chapter 32).
King Rederech grants Kentigern dominion over his kingdom in chapter 33, and after seven
years, Kentigern moves his bishopric to Glasgow. The next several chapters of the vita are devoted to the miracles performed by Kentigern.
The miracle of the salmon with the ring and the queen's infidelity is related in
Chapter 36. Chapter 37 describes the feast of King Rederech and the "dish of fresh
mulberries" requested by the minstrel. Both of these stories are variants of other
tales found in Celtic literature. The miracle of the milk beaten into cheese by the river
is found in chapter 38. Saint Columba visits with Kentigern (Chapter 39), and the sheep
rustlers receive their just punishment in the story of the ram's head that turns to stone
in the following chapter. Jocelyn tells how Kentigern raised crosses everywhere he went,
and the miraculous power associated with these crosses (Chapter 41).
The final days of Kentigern's earthly life are told in chapter 42. Kentigern receives a
visit from an angel who tells him that his disciples' prayers to "travel with
Kentigern to heaven" have been answered. A hot bath is prepared (Chapter 43), and
Kentigern and his disciples, possibly the same 665 disciples who came with him from Wales,
die and are buried (Chapter 44). Jocelyn says that many miracles were performed by the
saint after his death, but Jocelyn only relates the death of a thief who stole a cow from
Glasgow. Instead of healings, Jocelyn emphasizes the punitive powers of the saint.
The concluding chapter contains the story of King Rederech's "fool,"
Laloecen, who was inconsolable after Kentigern's death. Laloecen prophesied that Rederech
and a certain Morthec would die within the same year, and the prophesy came true. This
Laloecen is also prominent in a story found in the same manuscript that contains the
fragmentary life. In this short narrative (Vita Merlini Silvestris), Kentigern
befriends a wild man, named Lailoken. Lailoken is identified with Myrddin (Merlin) in
Welsh literature. The wild man later comes to Glasgow, and during a service in the church,
he foretells his own three-fold death (which came true the same day), and the deaths
within the coming year of the noblest king of the Britons, the holiest bishop and the most
distinguished chief. Although the story is unconnected to the fragmentary life of
Kentigern that it follows in the manuscript, some connection is implied between these two
Jocelyn was a monk at the Cistercian abbey of Furness in Northern Lancashire during the
mid-twelfth century. Although nothing is known of the time before he entered the abbey at
Furness, he is credited with writing several prose saints' lives, of which the most famous
is his Life of Saint Patrick. Jocelyn probably wrote this vita after he had
been established at Down in Ireland by John de Courcy in 1185. The two other lives that he
is known to have written are of northern saints, and this may reflect a personal interest
in the activities surrounding the Cistercian abbey of Melrose. The first northern life
narrates the story of Saint Waltheof, an intimate of Aelred of Rievaulx and a reforming
abbot of Melrose from 1149 to his death in 1159.107 Waltheof was also the
stepson of David I of Scotland, and with the help of David, he founded Cistercian
monasteries at Holm Cultram and Kinross. Further incentive for David I's interest in the
Cistercians may be found in the person of Aelred of Rievaulx. Aelred was David's seneschal
before becoming a monk at the abbey of Rievaulx. In 1147, Aelred became abbot of Rievaulx
and contributed to the founding of several Cistercian daughter houses in Scotland. Aelred
is also the author of a life of Saint Ninian, another northern saint in whom David I
expressed interest. The last life attributed to the authorship of Jocelyn is The Life
of Saint Kentigern, and this life, written about 1180, was dedicated to Bishop Jocelyn
of Glasgow, also a former abbot of Melrose.
Melrose Abbey was liberally endowed in 1136 by David I, and the king's support for the
Cistercian order is evident in his patronage of four daughter houses of Melrose,
including Holm Cultram in Cumbria.108 A possible reason for Jocelyn's
interest in Kentigern may stem from the close connection between the abbey of Melrose, the
bishopric of Glasgow, and the wish to bring out of obscurity the patron saint of David I's
own earldom of Cumbria, namely Kentigern, in order to enhance the king's own reputation as
a reformer and patron of the church, and link further the connections between Cumbria and
the royal house of Scotland.
The context in which Jocelyn writes finds its origins in the year 1058, when Malcolm
III, also called Canmore the Great Head, became king. From the early tenth century
Strathclyde had been a client of the king of Scotia, but "its independence was
virtually ended when the king of Scotia acquired Lothian" sometime between 960 and
1018.109 After the Norman invasion of William in 1066, many of the English
nobles found their way to Malcolm's court, including Edgar Atheling and his sisters,
Margaret and Christine. Sometime before 1071, Malcolm married Margaret at Dunfermline.
This marriage was probably the cause of William's campaign against Malcolm that next year,
because such an alliance suggested a greater interference by the Scots in Northumbria, an
area that had been in dispute between England and Scotland. The southern boundaries of
both Cumbria and Lothian were basically undefinable, and it is impossible to say
"whether they were provinces of the king of Scotland or might reasonably be claimed
by William."110 The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle relates that William
"led naval and land levies against Scotland, and blockaded that country to seaward
with his ships. He invaded the country with his land levies at the Ford [i.e. the Forth]
but gained no advantage from it. King Malcolm came and made his peace with King William,
gave hostages and became his vassal, and the king returned home with all his levies."111 One of the hostages was Malcolm's eldest son Duncan by his first wife. It was also
in 1072 that a dispute between the archbishops of York and Canterbury over canonical
subjection was settled and the archbishop of York was granted metropolitan status in
northern England and the whole of Scotland.112 Fothad, bishop of St. Andrew's,
may have submitted to York, but "the Scottish bishops would continue to consecrate
one another, and doubtless Fothad, who died in 1093, forgot his subjection as readily as
did Malcom III."113
Malcolm again invaded Northumbria in 1079 and 1091. The Anglo-Norman knights began
their colonization of all Cumbrian south of the Solway and Northumbria south of the Tweed
during this period. After both invasions, Malcolm was required to submit, "becoming
the man of the English king (which implied homage) and swearing fealty as well."114 When the treaty of 1091 was not fulfilled, Malcolm again marched into Northumbria
and was killed in a battle near the river Aln. Margaret died three days later, and
Malcolm's brother Donald was chosen king by the Scots. The English influence at the
Scottish court brought about through Margaret retreated in the face of Donald's hatred
"of the anglicized Church, of English clerics, courtiers, singers, knights and
traders."115 However, Donald was defeated in battle in 1097 by his nephew
Edgar, who was the second son of Malcolm and Margaret. Edgar earlier had been invested
with the kingdom of Scotland as a vassal of William Rufus in 1095 when he had fled south
to the English court after the death of his mother, Margaret. Edgar's relationship with
William Rufus was more firmly cemented when his sister Matilda married Henry I. Unlike his
mother, Edgar seems to have cared little for reforming or enhancing the church in
Scotland, and it was during Edgar's rule that all the islands to the west of Scotland was
given over to Magnus, king of Norway.
When Edgar died in 1107, the kigdom was divided between his brothers. Alexander
inherited the throne, but David held Lothian and Strathclyde. Although Alexander brought
the church closer to Roman customs and filled the monastic houses he established with
Anglo-Norman monks, "Alexander was stubborn in the defence of the Scottish Church and
resisted English attempts to place it under the authority of the archbishops of
York."116 Royal control of the bishopric of St. Andrews remained an
important consideration for Alexander as he wanted to bring in a cleric who would help
reform the church in Scotland. "Unlike the Conqueror, Alexander I never found his
Lanfranc, yet of his practical devotion to the church, the religious, and good works,
there can be no doubt."117
The enthronement of David I as king of Scotland in 1124 opened Scotland to a flood of
Norman colonization and a new enthusiasm for ecclesiastical reform. Norman expansion can
be seen in the listing of fortresses constructed of timber and surrounded by a ditch. At
first these defensive quarters were clustered mainly in Strathclyde and Lothian, but by
mid-century, Norman keeps were being constructed across the Grampians and into Moray.118 David showed his greatest support for the monastic ideals of the Cistercians. The
Cistercians looked for austerity away from the world, and they settled areas that were
isolated from other communities. The basic tenet of the Cistercian order held that the
Rule of St. Benedict was the pure Gospel of Christ:
Whatever St Benedict ordained was altogether established by the Providence of the Holy
Spirit, so that nothing can be imagined that is more profitable, more holy, or more
blessed. Indeed the Rule of St Benedict is an exposition of the whole Gospel, not
allegorically but in terms of simple experience and visible works.119
For this reforming order, the "whole Gospel" meant following Christ in
poverty and stark simplicity. The Cistercian ideal required complete self-abnegation,
poverty, retirement, purity, and refinement of the spiritual life. Cistercian monks built
on land owned in full possession by each house, but their buildings were to be "empty
of anything redolent of pomp or superfluity, or tending to corrupt the poverty
guardian of the virtues which they had unconstrainedly embraced."120 The
Cistercians sought to renounce any connection with the outside world, and to this end,
they refused to accept tithes, rents, services, or other profits of churches and altars.
In order to allow the monks to be freed from the labor of daily chores, the Cistercians
accepted into the order as laborers conversi (or "lay-brethren"), who
were illiterate and unable to fully participate in the monastic community. However, they
were monks in the sense that they followed a simplified monastic regime. Their clothing
was similar to the Cistercians, they kept ritual silence, and although they could not be
in church, they met to pray during celebration of the divine office. After enduring a
noviate of one year, these celibate semi-monks made a profession of life-long obedience
with a ritual that "emphasized the binding obligations undertaken by the aspirant,
but it did not give him the rights of a member of the community. It was a kind of monastic
vassalage."121 Yet, the excellent reputation of the order allowed for a
rapid foundation of four Cisterican houses before 1152 as large numbers of monks and conversi were attracted to the monastic life.122
When David I died in 1153, his grandson Malcolm IV, the last Scottish king with a
Celtic name, came to the throne. Although Malcolm fought with Henry I against the French,
his military service gained no reward from the English king, since Henry "had
renounced the promise to surrender Cumbria and Northumberland" back into Scottish
hands.123 Malcolm died in 1165 and the crown went to his brother William, who
would be called "The Lion."
With the crowning of William, the bishopric of Glasgow begins to rise from its
obscurity to became involved in the metropolitan controversy that still simmered between
York and Canterbury. How long the bishopric remained viable after Kentigern's death in 612
is questionable since no written records concerning the see are available until the
mid-eleventh century. It is noticeable that no bishopric was founded in either Strathclyde
or Lothian after these regions fell under Scottish control or influence in the tenth
century. There were bishops of Glasgow, who existed in the 1050s, but they were suffragans
of York, and it is more than possible that these bishops never crossed the Solway into
Scotland.124 Glasgow is mentioned in 1123 when David I, then prince of the
Cumbrian region, carried out an inquest by the judices of Cumbria into the ancient
possessions of Saint Kentigern's church, to which he had appointed his chaplain, John, as
bishop after a very long vacancy.125 When David became king, he sent John to
the curia at Rome in the hopes of securing an archbishopric for St. Andrews. John, as
bishop of Glasgow, had refused obedience toYork, but now both York and Canterbury sought
submission from Glasgow. David's request was set aside and York and Canterbury were to
meet in 1127 for a hearing on their claims to Glasgow. At the request of Henry I, the pope
granted legatine powers to the archbishop of Canterbury in both England and Scotland. The
dispute between David and York seems to have subsided as both realized these powers
"might give Canterbury the substance while York struggled for the shadow."126
In 1134, York again pressed Glasgow for submission, and the Roman curia seems to have
granted York's request. John instead transferred his obedience to the anti-pope Anacletus
II. When the schism ended in 1138, Innocent II sent his legate to David, who then
professed his devotion to the pope. After John died, David I appointed Herbert, Abbot of
Kelso, to the see of Glasgow, and Herbert was consecrated by Eugenius III at Auxerre. It
was under the auspices of Bishop Herbert that the "anonymous cleric of Saint
Kentigern" wrote what is now known as the fragmentary life of this saint. In 1164
Malcolm IV had Engelram consecrated as bishop by Pope Alexander III at Sens. When Jocelyn
also received consecration by papal command in 1175 at Clairvaux, the precedent for
Glasgow being regarded as "a special daughter" of Rome was well founded.
Sometime between 1175 and 1178, William the Lion granted a charter to Bishop Jocelyn which
authorized a "burgh" at Glasgow as well as a weekly Thursday market. At the same
time, a coat of arms was created for the city, which incorporates symbols of several
incidents from Kentigern's life, including a tree, a bird, a bell, and a salmon with a
ring in its mouth.127 The symbology of the coat of arms may be seen as another
aspect of the expansion of Kentigern's cult that promulgated the saint as protector and
defender of new city.128
When William came to the Scottish throne, he asked Henry II for the return of
Strathclyde and Lothian. When Henry refused, William promptly joined Henry's sons in
rebellion. However, William's advance into Northumbria came to a swift end when he was
captured at Alnwick Castle by the English army "at the moment (it was said) when
Henry II was doing penance at the tomb of St. Thomas Becket for the latter's murder."129
The political settlement of 1174 known as the Treaty of Falaise placed the Scottish
king at the mercy of Henry II, and William knelt and pledged to hold Scotland as a vassal.
Unlike prior Scottish monarchs, William's homage was not limited to his English
possessions, but instead "the oath he swore made vassals of himself, his brother, his
lords and churchmen and all their dependants."130 However, the clergy of
the Scottish church defied the terms of the treaty. In 1176, Henry II demanded the
obedience due by the Scottish bishops to the English church, but the bishops replied that
none was due. The debate was taken to Rome, and Jocelyn produced a bull, dated 30 April
1175, in which Glasgow was acknowledged to be subject only to Rome. Alexander III issued a
papal bull, Super anxietatibus, which forbade the archbishop of York from
exercising any metropolitan rights over the Scottish bishops.
Canterbury's claims over the Scottish church never amounted to a serious threat and the
bull of 1176 allowed the Scottish church to remain free from obedience to York. However
William requested from Rome in 1191 "further safeguards, specifically against the
threat posed by an English legate with authority over Scotland."131 In
1192, a papal bull, Cum universi, granted "the Scottish church (Scoticana
ecclesia), containing nine named bishoprics, to be immediately subject, non mediating,
to the Holy See."132 This bull effectively prevented York from exercising
ecclesiastical control over the Scottish church and closed the door on Canterbury using
legatine powers in Scotland. It is within this political climate of competing authority
for ecclesiastical obedience and the struggle for a national Scottish church freed from
the unwelcome attentions of either York or Canterbury that Jocelyn wrote his Life of
Saint Kentigern. If the date of 1180 for its composition is correct, then the Life can be seen as an affirmation of the initial victory of the Glasgow diocese over the
archbishop at York with the granting of the papal bull of 1176, and the culmination of the
work of David I begun in 1136 with the foundation of Melrose Abbey. The patronage of David
I for the Cistercian order, for Glasgow cathedral, and for the patron saint of Strathclyde
would suggest that David considered Kentigern more than merely a local' saint, and
the king used his power and prestige to expand Kentigern's cult throughout Scotland.
Rhetoric in Jocelyn's Life of Saint Kentigern
Any examination of the prose style in hagiography has to first address the question of
the particular audience of a saint's life. As has already been noted, the underlying
primary purpose for writing about a saint involved presenting a model for ethical living
and edification for the listeners. For this reason, the rhetorically simple sermo
humilis became the hagiographer's stylistic norm.134 This style is
characterized by a humility or lowliness of style in which "to make the Scriptures
available to all; the humblest of men should be drawn to them, moved by them, at home in
them. Yet Scripture is not always simple; it contains mysteries and hidden meaning; much
of it seems obscure. But even the difficult ideas are not presented in a learned,
"haughty" style that would intimidate and repel the simple man."135 Yet,
authors of saints' lives also were conscious of the diversity of perspectives within the
implied audience. The vita would be read during the Mass on the feast day of the
saint and as part of the selected readings during the course of the year at the monastery
or cathedral that oversaw the cult of a saint, and this implies an extremely broad
audience that ranged from those well versed in Latin to persons who would have hardly
understood the recited text. Such a mixed audience, religious and non-religious alike,
would also have differing traditions concerning the saint, and the hagiographer had to be
conscious of writing an account of the saint that would find acceptance with the
community, even as he attempted to rewrite the stories of the saint so that they would
conform to church doctrine. Even among his religious audience, the hagiographer
distinguished between levels of literacy through the
style of his writing. The style shifts within a text, according to Heffernan, argue for
an "author as literary artist [who] writes for the cognoscenti, for a limited
number of individuals with some training and understanding of the rhetorical tradition and
how it can be challenged."136 The shifts from a high style latinity to a
more unencumbered sermo humilis imply a demarkation on the part of Jocelyn between
members of his audience who he perceived were well versed in catholic doctrine and
classical rhetoric and the "common" people who he said still clung to tales and
legends that reflected their ignorance.
Jocelyn not only stratifies his audience on their ability to interpret Latin by his use
of different styles to tell the story of Kentigern's life, but he also characterizes his
audience's level of doctrinal understanding by his use of "we" or "I"
in making authorial comments on the text. When he is faced with a story that is clearly
uncanonical, Jocelyn uses the plural pronoun to appeal to his conception of a
Ut enim ad presens sepeliamus silentio que in poeticis carminibus, sive in
hystoriis non canonicis, inserta repperimus, ad sacra volumina accedentes, in libro
Genesis filias Loth non solum paternos complexus furtim sibi surripuisse, sed etiam ab
eodem inebriato et rei penitus ignaro, utramque concepisse legimus.
(So that for the present we may bury in silence those things we found
inserted in poetic songs, or in histories not canonical, we read from the
approved sacred books, in the book of Genesis, that the daughters of Lot not only secretly
took by stealth for themselves their father's embraces, but also that the same daughters
both conceived when he was drunk and entirely ignorant of the matter.)137
As the story of Kentigern's "virgin birth" is plainly against catholic
doctrine, Jocelyn resorts to a rhetorical appeal that places his audience in the position
of agreeing with his authorial voice, backed by the tradition of scripture, or being
considered ignorant because they cling to secular tales found in writings that have no
value. His use of legimus implies a literary audience, one that not only is able to
read Latin but is also able to discern truth from fable.
The above example can be compared to Jocelyn's denunciation of clerical abuses in
Sane, ut arbitror, ad argumentum agitur inexcusabilis dampnationis, ut tales
traditi in reprobum sensum non habeant, aut non admittant, virgam correptionis. Nec eorum
quemquam levigat a supplicio multitudo laborans in parili vicio, quia non minus ardent
perplures simul, quam singuli injecti camino. Sed quid decimus de illis, quibus
officium injunctum est ligandi atque solvendi, claudendi et aperiendi; qui levantur super
candelabrum, ut in domo Domini verbo et exemplo luceant? Nonne plures hodie fumum potius
quam flammam; fetorem magis quam fulgorem, representant? Nonne canes sunt muti, non
valentes, immo non volentes, latrare? Cum mores plusquam bestiales videntes, non audent
reprehendere. Presertim cum ipsi eorum moribus conformantur, immo deterius deformantur?
(Truly I think, this is done as evidence of their inexcusable condemnation, so
that such men, being handed over for reprehensible puposes, will not accept or allow the
rod of rebuke. And the multitude, laboring in equal vice, does not request their
punishment in the least, because the many, not less than they themselves, burn as if each
one is thrown into the fire. But what may we say about those of whom the duty is
imposed of binding and setting free, of closing and opening; who are raised high on the
candlestick, so that they may shine by word and example in the house of the Lord? Surely
more today represent smoke rather than flame, and the stench of sorcerers rather than
brightness. Surely they are dumb dogs, not able (by all means not willing) to bark. When
they see customs more than bestial, they do not dare to censure, especially when they
themselves are formed, indeed even more disfigured, by those customs.) (my italics)
Jocelyn's rhetorical style in this passage contains elaborate subordination and poetic
allusions. He plays with paired alliterating words (fumum, flammam; fetorem, fugorem) and rhyme (solvendi, claudendi, aperiendi) to achieve
an aural representation for his ringing attack against sinful clerics. Although the
majority of Jocelyn's audience may have understood the tone of the passage, Jocelyn's use
of "I" places him in the position of one who is privileged to condemn these
actions. The slightly more encompassing decimus ("we say") allows Jocelyn
to admit the more literary, and therefore more enlightened, members of his audience into
his perspective, and by extension, to join with him in denouncing the profaners of the
house of God. Jocelyn's style does not allow the non-literate, the multitudo,
entrance into this select company, and he clearly uses his language as a barrier for those
members of his community that he considers not to have a voice in this matter.
The style of the author's preface to a vita needs to be considered separately
from the text of the Life. Usually such a preface takes the form of a letter (epistola)
and as such contains its own rhetorical structure. Regardless of the style used in the
narrative of the saint's life, the preface tends to be an exercise in elaborate and formal
diction. Michael Lapidge calls this abstruse discursive style "hermeneutic," and
the phenomenon of this style is noticeable in almost all texts of Anglo-Latin literature
"produced in the wake of the Benedictine Revival" of the early eleventh century.138 Jocelyn conforms to the structure laid down for ars dictaminis in his
preface. He begins with a salutation, which was the most strictly defined portion of the
letter, and follows the pattern of placing the name of Bishop Jocelyn of Glasgow, (Jocelini
Christo Domini Jhesus Christi) first. Jocelyn's exordium, or captatio benevolentiae,
lays the groundwork for his petition, namely that Bishop Jocelyn would favorably accept
his work on Saint Kentigern. Jocelyn follows the exordium with the narrative of how he
came to write the vita by referring to the bishop's request (mandatum vestrum)
for a more "cultivated" life of Glasgow's patron saint. The preface ends with a
petition and an appeal to the bishop's judgment to accept the vita, and concludes
with a benediction. Jocelyn presents a polished and embellished epistle that underscores
his literary intentions.
Jocelyn's overall style favors a more elaborate rhetoric with the use of intricate
sentence structure and an inordinate amount of alliteration. There is also a tendency to
parallelism in the constuction of his sentences. These stylistic markers are common in the
works of the Cistercian monk Bernard of Clairvaux. As Jocelyn is writing for a Cistercian
house, he may have adopted this particular style to suit his audience.139 This
style is also known as the stilus Ysidorianus, and was the favored style of
monastic writers in general.140 David Townsend believes that the move towards a
more ornate latinity in the twelfth century reflects "an aesthetic or belletristic
agenda."141 However, such rhetorical fireworks are at odds with the stated
purpose of a hagiographic text, which is to edify and instruct its audience. The
hagiographer tends to construct the person addressed in the prologue as one who possesses
"some literary sophistication, [but] who nonetheless through a highly developed sense
of Christian charity foregoes his own literary pleasure for the greater good of the less
literate brethrena kind of cultural equivalent to Christ's emptying of himself
whereby sermo humilis becomes the quintessentially Christian level of
discourse."142 However, Jocelyn's Life of St. Kentigern effectively
violates this differentiation between the sophisticated reader of the prologue and the
need for the vita proper to incorporate a stylistic simplicity. Jocelyn's
hermeneutic tendencies are prevelent throughout the majority of his text, and underscores
his assumption of an audience well versed in a literary rhetoric that would have far
exceeded the abilitites of most of those listening to the text.
Jocelyn also plays on a common rhetorical trope in his preface. He states that any
errors that find their way into the life are the products of his limited skill as an
author. This so-called "humility topos" is prominent in many saints' lives, but
the rhetorical tradition for this trope extends back to classical literature.143 Another
feature of Jocelyn's writing is his dismissal of the former life used at Glasgow as being
uncouth and containing a barbaric style. Such derogatory remarks are also common features
in the prefaces of Latin saints' lives.144 Aelred of Rievaulx, who wrote his Life
of Saint Ninian about 1165, uses almost the same phrases in his preface as those of
Some comment on Jocelyn's use of "authority" is called for at this juncture.
Jocelyn relies heavily on scripture to heighten the auctoritas of his text. This
rhetorical affect is profoundly Cistercian. At times there is scarely a phrase that is
Jocelyn's own that does not echo with scriptural resonance. Jocelyn favors the Pauline
epistles and the books of the major Old Testament prophets in constructing his
representation of Kentigern as a vessel chosen of God. The opening chapter of the vita situates Kentigern within the apostolic traditions by Jocelyn's use of a quotation linking
Kentigern with Jeremiah and the allusion to Paul.146 However, Jocelyn rarely
acknowledges his sources, except when he occasionally introduces the scriptural material
with the tag "the prophet says."147 Jocelyn also will paraphrase his
scriptural texts in order to support the point being made concerning Kentigern's life as a
prophet and apostle to Strathclyde. Several ideas can be inferred from this ambiguous use
of scripture. First, the use of the Vulgate in hagiographical writings can be seen as so
embedded within a text as to emphasis a belief among medieval authors that scripture did
not constitute a separate discourse, but was seen as part of the ongoing language that
defined a person of sacred status. The second, and possibly more interesting, point
concerning the use of scripture by medieval hagiographers concerns the emphasis on the
construct of the saints as persons carrying the power and authority of the original
apostles. Jocelyn's repeated use of epitaphs for Kentigern that are associated with the
life of St. Paul allows Jocelyn to appropriate the authority of the first century Apostle
to the Gentiles for his own agenda in highlighting the divine power within Kentigern as a
prophet chosen by God to bring the gospel to the "heathens" of Strathclyde.
In the preface to the Life, Jocelyn states that he used a codicellus stilo
Scottico dictatus as source material for his work. The influence of both a Gaelic and
Cumbric source is recognized especially in chapters 1-9 and chapters 36-45 in Jocelyn's Life,
although there is still debate over whether this "little book" was written in a
Brittonic or a Gaelic language, or perhaps only "barbarous" Latin.148 Jocelyn
also acknowledges using oral tradition in compiling his Life, and there are several
narrational devices present in the Life that signal the use of this material in
Jocelyn's writing. Invariably Jocelyn will use ut patriote dicunt to signal his use
of oral narratives.149 Lastly, the preface states that a previous Life of
Saint Kentigern, written by an unknown author, was also included as a source for
Jocelyn, although Jocelyn complains that this Life is full of stories
"contrary to sound catholic doctrine." In editing and rewriting his material,
Jocelyn produced a Life that reflected the twelfth century model of a saint while
continuing to propagate the local oral traditions that had grown up around Kentigern in
the North. Further study into Jocelyn's sources follows in the next section.
Tradition in Jocelyn's Life of Saint Kentigern
Jocelyn's Life incorporates both regional and ethnic traditions that reflect the
social relationships and community structures of the Strathclyde kingdom, and provide
insight into the expectations and beliefs of the people who inhabited this region of
Scotland. In some instances, Jocelyn identifies his sources as regional and oral. In
others, he retells stories with striking affinites to earlier Welsh or Irish works, both
sacred and secular, which he and his sources were unlikely to have known in the written
forms now known to us. Therefore, it is most likely that local Celtic-based, largely oral
traditions are responsible for these elements of the Life. Occasionally, Jocelyn
takes issue with his local sources; yet, in so doing, he demonstrates that he cannot
ignore them altogether. At such points in the text, Jocelyn gives unintentional testimony
to the persistence and power of local traditions.
Kentigern is mentioned in the early pedigrees of British saints and by the ninth
century Irish writers. He is also included in the tenth century additions to Nennius.
According to the Welsh Triads, one of the thrones of Britain that survived the
English settlement of Britain was called Penryn Rionyt. The legendary Arthur ruled Penryn
Rionyt and the bishop of this area was Saint Kentigern.150 Kentigern's presence
in this triad may mark the transmission of his memory into Wales through the gloss of a
Strathclyde source. The Annales Cambriae also note the death of Kentigern in A.D.
612. Although Kentigern is not mentioned by either Bede or Adomnán, Bowen argues that
"to Bede and Adomnán, [Kentigern] belonged to an unorthodox and inferior
therefore merited no consideration" 151 The Welsh sources that mention
Kentigern were written down before the composition of the twelfth century Life of Saint
Kentigern by Jocelyn, although it is extremely improbable that Jocelyn had access to
As has been noted, the historical facts surrounding Kentigern and his missionary work
in Strathclyde are extremely scanty. There did arise a large body of legend around this
saint, and these legends can be gleaned for the understanding they offer of the common
beliefs held about Kentigern in the twelfth century. The literary-historical analysis of
the Life of Saint Kentigern provided by Kenneth Jackson focuses mainly on the
sources used by Jocelyn in compiling the Life, and presents a thorough examination
of the historical value of this text.152 Yet, just as John McNamara has noted
in another context, no literary-historical approach has yet explored "specific kinds
of legends that function in specifically differing ways in the specific context in which
they are related."153 Instead of focusing on the hypothetical ultimate
origin of a textual feature, a folkloric approach that analyzes the way tales are used by
Jocelyn in the text will give a clearer picture of how Kentigern was perceived within his
own society. To that end, the focus of this commentary will be mainly on issues associated
with the transmission of various Celtic and folk traditions and the audience as either
active or passive participants in that transmission.
In composing the vitae of Celtic saints, hagiographers tended to use the model
already in place for continental saints' lives. However, as Picard has argued, there was
the "potential influence of the heroic tradition on the writing of saints'
Lives" in Hiberno-Latin hagiography.154 The structure of the life of a
Celtic saint has many similarities with the hero tale of native oral storytelling
traditions, and these patterns are imbedded within the heroic tale "to aid the
construction of the tale and provide the audience with terms of reference, familiar in
their repetition."155 Henken's analysis of heroic patterns in the lives of
Welsh saints highlights seven major stages that are present in the accounts of the Welsh
- conception and birth
- childhood (education)
- performing a miracle which indicates spiritual maturity
- going out into the world founding churches, making pilgrimage, retiring to the
wilderness, journeying as a missionary
- conflict with secular powers (kings or beasts)
- ruling a territory
Although the heroic patterns in the vitae of the Irish and Welsh saints should
not limit the perception of these saints to only interchangeable names in the formula of
oral storytelling, I believe that the overall pattern in Jocelyn's life does suggest that
Jocelyn contextualized his life of Kentigern along similar heroic lines. This observation
leads to the conclusion that either Jocelyn or his sources deliberately sought to ground
Kentigern in the heroic tradition well known to the local community who kept alive
The narrative of Kentigern's conception does illustrate two important facets of Celtic
hagiography a royal pedigree and an unusual (and even at times, profane)
conception.157 Jocelyn maintains that Kentigern was the son of Thaneu,158 but
Kentigern's father is never mentioned. Jocelyn further describes Kentigern as being of
"a Royal tree" (ex Regali stemate) since his mother was the daughter of a
king (Chapter 1). However, Jocelyn does relate that some traditions hold that Kentigern
was born of a virgin, an idea that Jocelyn refutes with some ardor. Another tale, found in
the fragmentary life, believes that Kentigern's father was Owain, the son of Urien,159 who is said to have raped Theneu. Yet another legend says that Owain dressed up in
women's clothes and seduced Theneu without her knowing.160
The story of Kentigern's conception is an example of a native cultural value
confronting and overcoming church traditions. Several of the Welsh saints have profane
conceptions. According to the Life of Saint Cadoc, Cadoc's mother was taken by
force,161 even as is narrated in one tale of Kentigern's conception. These
examples of unusual and profane beginnings of the saints find their antecedents in the
heroic mythology of Celtic literature. Like Welsh Christian sources, secular Irish tales
often feature heroes conceived through a rape and/or during the sole sexual experience of
the mother. Lugh and Cormac MacArt are just two heroes of Irish myth whose conceptions
were shrouded in ambiguity.162 This emphasis on the conception reflects the
societal belief that the special powers of the hero, or the saint, are bestowed even
before birth. An unusual or even illegitimate conception would be seen as the working out
of divine will, whether that divinity is perceived as Christian or not.
Jocelyn glosses over the conception of Kentigern and chooses to focus on scriptural
reasons why Thennew would not remember "a human embrace." He does not rework the
legend of Theneu's rape as this would not suit his depiction of Kentigern as a saint above
reproach. Instead, Jocelyn in all essence avoids the entire issue of Kentigern's
conception, and dismisses the conflicting tales as "foolish":
Hec inseruisse superfluo nequaquam arbitramur, quia populus stultus et insipiens, in
diocesi Sancti Kentegerni degens, ipsum de virgine conceptum, et natum adhuc astruere non
(We do not by any means think this [Jocelyn's "interpretation" of Kentigern's
conception] was unnecessary to be introduced here, because the foolish and unwise people
living in the diocese of Saint Kentigern still do not fear to say that he himself was
conceived and born of a virgin.) (Chap. 1)
Instead of arguing against this version of Kentigern's conception, Jocelyn shifts the
focus to the authority of scripture. From the very beginning of his vita, Jocelyn
relies on the model of the Old Testament prophets in narrating Kentigern's life. Jocelyn
chooses the template of Jeremiah to set the tone for the Life, and equates
Kentigern's conception to that of the prophet using the words of God to pronounce
Priusquam te formarem in utero novi te; et, antequam exires de ventre, sanctificavi te;
et prophetam in gentibus dedi te.
(Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the
womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.)163
By using this verse to account for Kentigern's conception, Jocelyn acknowledges the
cultural emphasis on power or sanctity given to a hero before birth, as well as the
importance of a divine will behind such an act. However, Jocelyn himself also recognizes
that the story of the "virgin birth" of Kentigern holds a prominent place in the
minds of the patriota. The legend continued to circulate, even though such a belief
was clearly contrary to catholic doctrine. This legend can be seen as an example of the
audience's influence on the text itself. Even as Jocelyn was composing the authoritative Life,
his audience held to their own version of the legend of the "virgin birth." In
the face of such opposition, Jocelyn was powerless to apply a new legend in its place, and
had to settle for avoiding the issue in his text.164
The emphasis of a royal bloodline in the narratives of saints' lives highlights the
belief that saints were seen locally as sacred heroes. The genealogies of the saints grant
these sacred heroes a relationship to royal dynasties and, more importantly, a place of
kinship within secular society. The importance of kinship cannot be overstated. The duties
of kinship included protecting the rights and status of other members of the kindred
group, acting as surety for the behavior of kin, and having a moral duty to avenge the
death of a kinsman. When the saint was made a part of a kindred group through a
genealogical pedigree, that saint also took on the duties imposed on all within a specific
kindred group. However, as the saint is seen as a supernatural being, the kinship group is
assured of an immortal avenger who will protect them in times of trouble.165
Kentigern's pedigree adds the interesting twist of aligning him with such heroes of
Brittonic tradition as Arthur and Owain. The stories of King Arthur had been part of a
heroic oral tradition of the bards among the peoples of Wales and Cornwall for centuries
before Jocelyn's time. As Strathclyde, even in the twelfth century, retained a large
Brittonic population, it is more than likely that such tales of Arthur's feats were
circulating in the oral stories of this area as well, as evidenced by the survival of the
poetry of Aneirin. In the earlier fragmentary life of Kentigern, the anonymous author
states that Kentigern's maternal grandfather was "a certain King Leudonus, a man half
Pagan, from whom the province over which he ruled obtained the name of Leudonia in
Northern Britannia."166 According to Geoffey of Monmouth, Lot was given
Uther Pendragon's daughter in marriage, and from this marriage the king had a daughter
named Theneu.167 The fragmentary life says that Theneu was seduced by
"Ewen, the son of Erwegende, sprung from the most noble stock of the Britons."168 Out of this union between Theneu and Ewen [Owain] came Kentigern. This genealogy
links Kentigern to two of the best known heroes of early Britain: Arthur in the south and
Owain in the north.
If secular and sacred Celtic influences are seen to be working on Jocelyn, a more
orthodox model is also apparent in his account of Kentigern's birth. According to Jocelyn,
Theneu gave birth to her son alone on a sandy shore, and she wrapped him in swaddling
clothes. The parallels to the narrative of Christ's birth in the Gospel of Luke are
striking. This parallelism emphasizes the need for the vitae of the saints to be imitationes
Christi. By portraying Theneu in the likeness of the Virgin Mary, Kentigern becomes a
type for Christ, who is seem as the single authenticating norm for all saintly action.169 And yet again, Jocelyn's narrative differs sharply from other versions of
Kentigern's birth due to his formulated notion of how he should represent the life of this
saint. Jocelyn portrays the events as happening quickly with little descriptive material
outside of the paraphrase of Christ's birth. Theneu gives birth, is found by the shepherds
and taken to Saint Servanus. Servanus "received them into his own home,"
instructed them, and baptized them. The narrative then swiftly moves to an explanation of
their names, and finally to presenting the boy Kentigern as another Samuel. Jocelyn's
account ends with a generic description of Kentigern's virtues, and his nickname Munghu
among the people.170
Jocelyn's account of Kentigern's birth is almost completely overshadowed by the
emphasis placed on the description of the saint's early character. This passage continues
the motif established by Jocelyn in the first chapter of presenting Kentigern as an Old
Testament prophet. After referring to Kentigern as "another Samuel," Jocelyn
alludes to John the Baptist with a paraphrase of Luke 1:80. By identifying Kentigern with
prophets who denounced the sins of the people, Jocelyn displays his own agenda as a
hagiographer writing to a bishop of the reforming Cistercian order. Kentigern becomes the
forerunner, "the voice crying in the wilderness," of the twelfth century monks
whose primary motivation was to return the church to its earlier purity as a reaction
against the laxity of Cluny and other monasteries. In this instance, Jocelyn focuses his Life on the religious issues of his day as he sets about creating a text whose language garbs
Kentigern in the robes of a Cistercian. This identification of Kentigern as a
proto-Cistercian will continue throughout the Life as Jocelyn describes Kentigern's
preaching and the founding of his various communities.
What is missing from Jocelyn's rendition of Kentigern's birth is Saint Servanus' sermon
on virginity. According to the version found in the fragmentary life of Kentigern,
Servanus acknowledges the unusual conception of Kentigern, but removes any taint of sin
from the story:
Eya ergo fratres karissimi, quoniam cogitationes humane conditioni nesciunt subjacere,
quia tam ea que displicent quam illa que placent sepius invadunt, omnium reor opinione
fidelium esse hortandum, ne quis presumat opinari hujus beati pueri conceptionem
fornicationis maculam contraxisse. Videtur namque mihi patris ejus matrisque convento
sanctitate legitimum excellere matrimonium: porro quoniam patris erat intentio ut virginis
animum in suum alliceret conjugium, matris vero erat devotio ut virginitatem servando ab
omni se excluderet virili consortio.
(Come, therefore, dearest brethren, since thoughts cannot be subject to human
condition, as they often affect the things which distress us as well as those which please
us. I think, in the opinion of all the faithful, men should be exhorted not to presume to
think that the conception of this blessed child hath contracted the taint of fornication.
For it seemeth to me that the meeting of his father and mother excels in sanctity lawful
marriage: seeing that it was the intention of the father to allure the mind of the virgin
towards marriage with himself, while the devotion of the mother prompted her by preserving
her virginity to avoid the society of men.)171
This legend clearly points to the ambiguous nature of Kentigern's conception. However,
the unknown author of this Life choose to portray the conception of Kentigern as a
holy and sanctified act due to the "pure" motives of his parents. An examination
of the text shows that the author depicts Servanus as having been previously aware of the
controversy surrounding Theneu before she even arrived at his home, and this suggests that
the story of her punishment for fornication was already circulating locally before she
Servanus acts as a mediator for the story, changing the tone of the narrative from a
sinful to a saintly act. The unknown author's narrative privileges the orality of his
sources and focuses the theme of the event on the beliefs held in common through
transmission of the spoken word. Unlike Jocelyn, the author of the fragmentary life
depends on legend instead of scripture as evidence for his interpretation of Kentigern's
unusual conception and birth. After stating that neither parent was guilty of sin, the
author has Servanus relate a portion of Saint Lucy's reply to her would-be defiler:
"If thou makest me to be violated against my will, my chastity is doubled so far as
gain is concerned."172 Jocelyn, on the other hand, omits all mention of
this material in his account of Kentigern's birth, because such legendary sources are in
conflict with his own vision of Saint Kentigern as a divine vessel who embodies all the
virtues of the Cistercian ideal. Any detail that portrayed the saint as
"unsaintly" in another source would have been interpreted by Jocelyn as "a
lack of vision and faith" on the part of the other author.173
The final chapter of Jocelyn's Life contains the kernel of another tale which
also associates Kentigern with the Brittonic legends. This story relates the prophecy of a
fool of King Rederech's court named Lailoken, who after the death of Kentigern foretells
the deaths of the king and one of his chiefs within the year.174 A more
complete version of this legend as found in the Vita Merlini Silvestris has
Lailoken disrupt the services in Glasgow cathedral. After foretelling that his own
three-fold death would take place on that day, Lailoken receives the sacrament and came to
his senses long enough to prophesy to Saint Kentigern,
"Lord, if temporal life finishes for me today, just as you have heard from me, the
most outstanding of the kings of Britain, the holiest of the bishops, and the noblest of
the lords,175 will follow me during this year."
The bishop replied: "Brother, do you still persist in your folly, without having
completely shaken off your spirit of irreverence? Therefore go in peace and may the Lord
be with you."
Lailoken, after receiving the episcopal benediction, leapt away from there like a wild
goat set free from the hunter's snare and joyfully made tracks for the desolate waste. But
since what has been preordained by the Lord must come to pass, it happened that on the
same day he was stoned and beaten to death by certain shepherds of king Meldred and while
he was in the throes of death he fell down the steep side of the river Tweed near the town
of Drumelzier on to a sharp stake which had been driven into the ground as part of a
fish-trap and he was impaled right through the middle of his body. His head fell forward
into the water and so, just as he had prophesied, he gave up his soul to the Lord.176
Related Welsh stories name the wild man as Myrddin (also identified as
"Llallogan" in one Welsh poem"), a prophet who was "living in the
forest of Celydon in Scotland as a result of having gone mad after a battle."177 The tale of Myrddin in Jocelyn's life is analogous to the Irish story of Suibhne
Geilt, and Roberts notes that "whether Myrddin is a secondary development from
the Llallogan legend or analogous to it, he was already established as a major prophet by
the tenth century when he appears in the poem "Armes Prydain" foretelling the
victory of a British-led confederation against the English Athelstan about 930."178 It is likely that Myrddin was, like Taliesin and Aneirin, a poet of the north and
one who feared and hated King Rederech because of his patronage of monks instead of bards.
However, none of Myrddin's poetry has survived. This Myrddin is transformed in Geoffrey of
Monmouth's history into the seer responsible for Arthur's conception through his magical
powers of illusion.
Jocelyn's version of the story has Lailoken become inconsolable after the death of
Kentigern. When asked why he grieved so much,
respondit Regem Rederech dominum suum, et quemdam de primoribus terre nomie Morthec,
non posse post mortem Sancti episcopi diutius in hac vita morari, sed illo anno presenti
in fata concessuros.
(He answered that his lord King Rederech and another of the first men of the land,
named Morthec, would not be long in this life after the death of the holy bishop, but that
they would succumb to fate in that present year and die.)179
Jocelyn would definitely have known of, or possibly have even read, Geoffrey of
Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, and he would have been acquainted with some
of the connections between Kentigern and Arthur. Jackson suggests that Jocelyn presents a
version of the tale that was well known in his day, but "it would seem that he
thought the whole much too wild,' and watered it down in such a way that very little
is left, and most of what is left is different."180 Instead, an argument
can be made that Jocelyn deliberately edited his source in order to fulfill the
expectations of his audience while preserving the pristine portrait he had developed of
the saint as a reforming prophet in the preceding chapters. The story of Kentigern and
Lailoken was possibly too well known to ignore completely since such an omission would
deny the expectations of Jocelyn's audience in hearing the stories of their saint. Jocelyn
compromises his stance to write only of those events that would elevate the sanctity of
Kentigern and includes an allusion to the Kentigern-Lailoken tale, but textualizes this
tale as an addendum to Kentigern's life that takes place after the saint's death. In this
manner, the audience is appeased while at the same time the legend of the wild man is
distanced from the true hero, Kentigern.
However, Jocleyn never makes a direct reference to Arthur anywhere in his text, a
remarkable omission considering the number of times Jocelyn could have easily incorporated
Arthur into his narrative in the retelling of tales that were well known to be associated
with Arthur. In the same manner, Jocelyn also glosses over Kentigern's connection with
Owain, although in this instance, Jocelyn does acknowledge other variations of Kentigern's
conception. The omission of Arthur may be related to the ongoing competition between
Arthur, the hero of the south, and Owain, hero of the north. Just as Welsh hagiographers
needed to supplant Arthur with the creation of new and greater heroes in the form of
saints, Jocelyn would also have needed to present Kentigern as being the outstanding
heroic figure in the north at the expense of Owain.181 The inclusion of the
Myrddin story as the concluding chapter of Jocelyn's text may be a rhetorical strategy to
exhibit the power of Kentigern over the heroic tradition of Owain circulating locally in
Strathclyde. This is only a tentative conclusion; yet, the omission of either Arthur or
Owain in Jocelyn's text points to some conscious desire on the part of the author to
downplay the heroic nature of these two major characters of Brittonic tradition.
The pattern of the heroic Celtic saint is continued in narrating events from the
saint's childhood. Usually such events include having great strength, learning to read in
one day, and arguing theology with their elders.182 Kentigern's life follows
this overall pattern, but there are also some important variations. Instead of specific
events that would illustrate the divine learning of Kentigern, Jocelyn chooses to rely on
a more generalized narrational device.183 In chapter 4 of Jocelyn's Life,
Kentigern is described as having "an attentive heart, a keen nature for
understanding, a firm memory to retain what had been learned, a persuasive tongue to
produce what he desired, and a sublime voice." However, there are no references to
specific wonders in Kentigern's education that are prominent in other Celtic Saints. The glossing of Kentigern's childhood education instead acts as a
transition piece to the more dramatic miracles that follow this section of the Life.
Three miracles are described from Kentigern's boyhood. Two of these miracles involve
raising the dead to life (Chap. 5 and 7), and the other one illustrates Kentigern's power
over the element of fire (Chap. 6). In the tale of Kentigern bringing the dead bird back
to life, he uses the sign of the cross while praying to God. The emphasis is placed on the
purity of the young boy, and again there is a reference to Kentigern as a chosen vessel of
God. However, when Kentigern restores the cook to life, the emphasis of the story changes
to highlight the obedience of Kentigern to his teacher, Saint Servanus. The language of
this section parallels the narrative of the raising of Lazarus in the Gospel of John.184 These events of Kentigern's life continue to illustrate standardized features of Celtic
hagiographic material. Although there is a strong reliance on the authority of the Bible,
the story of the cook also incorporates the authority of the eyewitness.185
Power over the elements is also a standard motif in Celtic hagiography. The tale of
Kentigern and the green branch that miraculously burned with fire from heaven can be
interpreted as an aetiological account that explains why the wood from a certain grove
burns easily. The motif of the burning tree is also found in the story of Peredur where
"on the bank of the river he saw a tall tree: from roots to crown one half was aflame
and the other green with leaves."186 The description of the fiery tree may
denote a connection with the Celtic "otherworld," and the inclusion of this
passage in Jocelyn's narration is further evidence of his sources reliance on local
tradition. Jocelyn acknowledges the authority of the "country people" in this
tale, and relies on their narrative for this miracle. However, Jocelyn sees this miracle
as a visual representation of Kentigern's sanctity. Although Jocelyn does not dispute the
folk story, his use of rhetoric returns the moral of the story to an exemplum for living a
life pleasing to God.
Brigitte Cazelles remarks, "Medieval hagiologic mediation consists in exalting,
first, the exceptional nature of the Christian hero, and second, his or her exceptional
intercessive value."187 As the image of the saint evolved from the martyr
to the confessor, the saint received his power through a reputation for sanctity in his
life. One method of representing this sanctity was in describing the ascetic practices of
the Saint. Celtic Saints were especially known for their ascetic practices, and in this
regard, Kentigern definitely follows the Celtic model. He is described as sleeping on a
rock, mortifying his flesh in icy cold streams, subsisting on a diet of water and grasses,
and participating in prolonged fasts. Such practices acted as symbolic representations of
the saint's holiness and his or her power to intercede in the lives of mortals. Although
the Lives were designed to teach the faithful to imitate the actions of Christ and
the Apostles, the very nature of the miraculous in the Lives underscored the divine
nature of the saints. Gregory the Great acknowledged that "the saint, unlike the rest
of humankind, lived simultaneously in two worlds, the heavenly and the earthly."188 The vitae may have been written as exempla for the listeners; however, the
audience understood that such sanctity was reached by only a few chosen men and women. In
other words, the model of the saint's life was the ideal in the society, but was not
seriously considered attainable by the members of the community.
Three other instances in Kentigern's life are worth mentioning as they have a
connection with Celtic traditional heroic legendry of both Christian and secular spheres.
The first is the story of Kentigern being led to the site of his proposed monastery by a
white boar. In Celtic tradition, there is a repeated use of white animals as guides for
both secular heroes and saints. Several of the stories in the Mabinogi contain
references to Welsh heroes who are led by white animals, as in the tales of Manawydan and
Pryderi and the aventures of Gwydyon.189 The motif of animal as guide is also
prominent in the lives of the Irish saints. Saints Berach and Ruadan both are said to be
led to the sites of their monasteries by animals.190 Another Celtic motif
involves the saint's power over wild animals. In Kentigern's life, he commands two wild
stags to plow his field. Stags seem to be the most frequently called upon animal in Celtic
hagiography, and are another popular motif found in Celtic hagiography. The motif of a
wild animal plowing the land, numbered B256 and B292 in Thompson's motif index, is also
included in the vitae of the Welsh saints, as in the lives of Cadoc and Deiniol to
name just two examples.191
The most familiar of the folktales incorporated into Kentigern's life revolves around
the story of the ring thrown into a body of water and then later discovered.192 According
to the tale in Jocelyn's version, the queen gives a ring to her lover, which had
previously been given to her by the king. When the king finds out, he slips the ring off
the lover's finger and throws it into the river. When the king asks for the ring back, the
queen sends a messenger to Kentigern and asks for his help. The ring is found in a fish,
returned to the king, and the royal couple live happily ever. A similar story involving a
ring, a salmon, and the question a woman's virginity can be found in the Irish tale
entitled "The Cattle Raid of Fróech"(Táin Bó Fráich), and is also
related in the earlier seventh century tale found in Cogitosus' Life of Saint Bridget.193 In the case of Jocelyn's text, it is probable that this tale was already attached to
one of his sources and may have functioned as an exemplum for the rewards of religious
faith. Jocelyn uses the story as an example of God's mercy. The wife, husband, and the one
who informed the king of the queen's adultery "were recalled into the grace of peace
and mutual love for each other."194 The authority of this passage is based
on the word of the queen herself, who "never revealed to anyone the sign by which the
Lord magnified his mercy with her while her husband lived, but after his death she let it
be known to all who wished." A final note on this motif concerns the Cathedral of St.
Asaph in Wales. Although the account of Kentigern founding the monastery there is
extremely dubious, there are carvings of the salmon with a ring in its mouth in the
Cathedral.195 This may indicate some transmission of the Kentigern legend into
Wales at a point prior the the twelfth century when the diocese of St. Asaph was refounded
under the Normans. If so, there is a strong likelihood that the cultural and linguistic
links between Wales and Strathclyde allowed for a circulation of Arthurian tales and other
Celtic traditons that eventually were incorporated into Kentigern's vita by
Overall, Jocelyn's Life of Saint Kentigern follows the model of other Celtic
saints in both its structure and use of folk motifs. However, there is one remarkable
departure from the usual paradigm. The shrines of saints were basically viewed as places
of healing, and the miracles that took place at such shrines were believed to be the
visual manifestation of the power of the saint. Such miracles were important components in
elevating a person to the status of saint. Those who expressed scepticism about the
authenticity of the saint's relics or about his miraculous power, those who violated his
shrine, those who failed to respect his pilgrims, those who failed to attend his festival
or prevented others from doing so, those who neglected his service, those who left vows
unfulfilled, and, of course, those who stole from his shrine or destroyed it, all could
expect to suffer the saints' vengeance in due course, and this might mean serious illness,
incapacity or death.196 Jocelyn makes reference to the efficacy of Kentigern's
shrine in Glasgow, saying, "At his mound, sight is restored to the blind, hearing to
the deaf, steps to the lame, speech to the mute, cleanliness to the leper's skin, strength
to paralyzed limbs, and sense to the insane. Those who were impious, sacrilegious,
perjurers or violators of the peace of his church and defilers of the holy places were
punished with deserved penalties."197 However, this passage contains no
specific miracles that are so much a part of other saints' lives.198 Instead,
Jocelyn plainly states in his preface that "of the translation of this saint, or of
the wonders performed after his death, I was not able to discover anywhere; they either
were not noted because by chance they escaped from the memory of those at present, or they
have been enriched beyond numbers and omitted, so that the abundance of wonders collected
might not weary feeble readers." This is one of the several instances where Jocelyn
seems to be consciously editing out elements of Kentigern's life that do not conform to
his concept of saintly characteristics. Although Jocelyn does rely on folk traditions
throughout his compilation, Jocelyn seems to acknowledge that some tales are beyond even
the miraculous boundaries associated with the lives of saints. It is possible to infer
that Jocelyn was using his editorial capability to tone down the stories of miracles at
the grave of Kentigern for the same reason that he refuted the belief of Kentigern's
"virgin conception." By the twelfth century, the process of canonization had
become more stringent and centralized in the hands of the church.199 As an
author, Jocelyn would have been placed in the position of acknowledging the local
traditions surrounding Kentigern while at the same time formulating a portrait of this
saint that conformed to the expectations of Roman ecclesiastical authority. Jocelyn's
rhetoric may have been a way to elevate Kentigern above the status of local saint and
place him in the category of a true miles Christi and Apostle to Strathclyde.
The Texts of
the Life of Saint Kentigern
The oldest extant source for Kentigern is the fragmentary Life of Saint Kentigern.
This life consists of a preface and eight chapters. The author is only describes himself
as a cleric of St. Kentigern who had travelled a great deal, and the preface states that
the life was composed at the request of Herbert, bishop of Glasgow from 1147 to 1164.200 The anonymous author said that he found his material for the Life of Saint
Kentigern in a little book of his miracles and from oral tradition.
This fragmentary life was used at Glasgow for about 30 years. At that time a new life
was written by Jocelyn, a monk of Furness Abbey in northern Lancashire.201 This
life was written at the request of Bishop Jocelyn, who was Bishop of Glasgow from 1175 to
1199.202 Jocelyn, the author, was at Down in Ireland in 1185, and so it is
likely that he wrote his Life of Saint Kentigern sometime before then, perhaps
about 1180. Jocelyn also states that he used a little book, written in the Scottic style,
as a source for his life, as well as the life already at Glasgow and oral tradition.
The "little book" that both the author of the fragmentary life and Jocelyn
refer to possibly was written in Gaelic or (less likely) Cumbric. The material of this
source is most definitely the basis for the events surrounding Kentigern's birth and seems
to have been written when Brittonic traditions were still strong in Strathclyde. One of
the sources of the "Scottic" book had to be someone with a great deal of
knowledge concerning the land comprising the Lothian region as well as access to old
traditions which surround Kentigern. It is worth mentioning that several scholars, Jackson
included, do not believe
that this source was written in the vernacular. Instead, as Jackson summarizes his
findings, stilo Scottico means naturally "in the Gaelic style of Latin"
rather than "in Gaelic"; the Latin of early medieval Irish writers is of course
notorious for its peculiarities, many of them of Gaelic origin, and these could only seem
"barbarous" to a man like Jocelyn.'203 On the other hand, an argument
can be made that the "little book" was composed in the Gaelic vernacular, and
the fact that Jocelyn wrote a Life of Saint Patrick, and his monastery had a close
connection with the Isle of Man, open the possibility that Jocelyn did know the Gaelic
language. Also the influx of a Gaelic-speaking population into Strathclyde in the early
eleventh century could have been the catalyst for composing a life of Strathclyde's patron
saint for the edification of the newcomers. The "little book" could very well be
the product of the Gaelic influence in Strathclyde after Strathclyde was incorporated into
Gaelic Scotland in 1018. The patron saint of Glasgow would have been assimilated and
adopted, and a life of Kentigern could have been written to cement the adoption. This
hypothesis would explain the many Irish folk motifs found in Jocelyn's Life of Saint
Two other sources for Kentigern's life are available. The first is an office of Saint
Kentigern in a breviary of the late thirteenth century.204 This office contains
nine prose lectiones and verse canticles. The prose only recounts the story of
Kentigern's upbringing by Saint Servanus. It would seem that the lectiones were
taken from an early version of the tale of Servanus and Kentigern, but the canticles are
derived from Jocelyn's account of Kentigern's life. The other source is the Breviary of
Aberdeen, which dates from the beginning of the sixteenth century.205 This
source contains accounts of Kentigern's own life as well as tales of his mother. The lectiones of this breviary resemble those of the Sprouston Breviary, and are probably derived
from the same source. However, the Office of Saint Theneu is clearly taken from the
There is an important difference between the unknown author of the fragmentary life and
Jocelyn. The unknown author tends to repeat every detail he heard or read concerning
Kentigern, "and did his best to account for it, no matter whether he cared for or
fully understood the very strange and very Celtic character of some of the matter, or was
interested in the intimate local knowledge of places doubtless quite unknown to him."206 Jocelyn, in his Life, shows little interest in local legend, and he tends to
gloss over the names of places and people. This is especially evident in the story of
Kentigern's conception. Jocelyn definitely has an agenda in his writing to glorify and
elevate his heroic saint. The unknown author's agenda is more muted, and he seems to write
in a style which places more emphasis on the authority of his local sources.
Another difference between the two sources stems from their respective author's use of
style in their writing. Both authors contain a "pervasive use of images and diction
derived from the Scriptures," although Jocelyn's use of Biblical and canonical texts
far outweighs that of the author of the fragmentary Life.207 The style
of the fragmentary Life is rather straightforward with little rhetorical
ornamentation. The writing tends to show similarity to the sermo humilis in its use
of a simplified diction and paratactic structure. Bede also uses this particular style,
and it is more than possible that the author of the fragmentary Life used the
writings of Bede as a template in composing his vita of Kentigern.
The story of Kentigern and Servanus seem to come from a later Gaelic source than that
which gives the account of Kentigern's conception. According to the prose parts of the Sprouston
Breviary, it is Kentigern who accidentally tore off the bird's head. Frightened of the
consequences of Servanus' anger, Kentigern puts the head back on the robin's body, and the
bird comes to life again. Jocelyn reworks this passage so that Kentigern takes no part in
the death of the bird, but is blamed by the other pupils. The second episode in the Sprouston
Breviary tells how the fire in Servanus' chapel went out while Kentigern slept,
although it was his duty to keep the fire going. Again, Jocelyn edits his source so that
Kentigern is blameless of any wrongdoing. Also, Jocelyn appeals to local custom in this
case as proof of the truth of his story. It is interesting that the prose sections of both
breviaries are in conflict with Jocelyn, and this suggests that the source for the prose
sections was different from the sections relating to Kentigern's birth.
From Chapter 11 to Chapter 21, the source material used by Jocelyn contains only a
Cumbric or Welsh character. These chapters deal with Kentigern's exile in Wales. The whole
account is obviously late and spurious, especially the story of Kentigern's visits with
Saint Dewi. The tale of Kentigern's visit and his founding of Llancarfan is an attempt to
raise his status by linking him with the man who had come to be regarded by the twelfth
century as the patron saint of Wales. The story of Kentigern's work around Carlisle, and
the setting up of a cross at Crosfeld, is intended to explain the presence of a
number of churches in northern Cumberland dedicated to the saint.208
However, the story of Kentigern at St Asaph does seem to have some source that is
independent of Jocelyn's propaganda. A charter edited by Forbes states that Kentigern was
given Llanelwy by a king Malginus.209 After a quarrel, Malginus was blinded,
but he asked mercy from Kentigern and his sight was restored. Although the charter is
dated later than Jocelyn's account, perhaps from the 1250s, the document does seem to
witness to the existence of a story at St Asaph that the monastery was founded by Saint
Kentigern and that it received its land from Maelgwn of Deganwy.210
From Chapter 33 to the end of the Life, Jocelyn recounts several miracles
relating to Kentigern. The source material again seems to be derived from a Gaelic
tradition, as already discussed in the folk motif of the lost ring. Another event that
confirms the Gaelic origin for these chapters is the story of the Irish minstrel or jester
who visits the court of King Rederech in Strathclyde. The phrase "honorem, ut vulgo
dici solet, asportare," is found in the Middle Irish, and refers to a poet who
"puts shame upon a chief for ungenerosity or other ignoble vices" and
"carries off the honor" of the chief.211 The story itself is a
reworking of the folk motif called "strawberries in winter," and made familiar
in the stories of Grimm.212 The same story is found in the Life of Saint
Ciarán of Saighir.213
After all is said concerning the sources for Jocelyn's Life of Saint Kentigern,
it would seem that the chief source was a now lost life drawn up in Strathclyde in the
eleventh century at a time when Brittonic traditions were still strong. The second major
source is the "little book" referred to by the author of the fragmentary life
and by Jocelyn himself. This lost document was undoubtedly compiled within a Gaelic
context, possibly even at Saint Servanus' monastery at Culross. It appears to belong to
the period dating to the tenth century.214 Finally there is the probable
Norman-Latin document of Welsh origin which relates the legend of the foundation of St
Asaph by Kentigern. Finally there are the local tales which Jocelyn says he incorporated
into his text.
The characterization of Saint Kentigern as an Old Testament prophet also takes on a new
meaning when the life of Kentigern is placed within its twelfth century context. Jocelyn's
emphasis on the punitive powers of the saint, which are made known after his death,
reinforces the image of the saint as prepared to cast down a fiery judgment upon anyone
who sought to profane the resting place of the beloved of God. The soldier of Christ is
seen as vanquishing all who would try to intrude on his possessions, even as he will
vindicate those who stand up for his name. In this case, the demons are sent from York to
harry the property of Kentigern, and Kentigern returns them to the darkness through his
divine power. Another proof of the power of Kentigern's cult at this time is the
rebuilding of his cathedral by Jocelyn, which was consecrated in 1197.
The cult of Saint Kentigern continued up to the beginning of the Renaissance. The
finest thirteenth century cathedral in Scotland was that of Saint Kentigern's in Glasgow.
It was built mostly during the time of Bishop William de Bondington, bishop of Glasgow
from 1232 to 1258, to replace Bishop Jocelyn's church that had been destroyed by fire. The
eastern arm of the church has two stories, in which the under church or crypt contains the
tomb of Saint Kentigern. Pilgrims coming to the shrine could make a complete circuit
around the tomb. Above this crypt was the high altar that contained a shrine of the saint
in the form of a stone base on which was attached a life size jeweled image of Saint
Kentigern's shoulders and head.215
The historical value of the Life of Saint Kentigern is admittedly small. The
reference to the kings of Strathclyde being subject to the bishops does have some
significance in retelling the history of Strathclyde. However, the interest in this Life is due more to the implied references to the society that comprised sixth century Scotland
and the beliefs of the twelfth century audience that continued the cult of Saint
Kentigern. That there was a church in Strathclyde in the sixth and seventh centuries is a
recognized fact. The work of Kentigern during this time continues to be symbolically
acknowledged in the coat of arms for the city of Glasgow, which includes symbols of
Kentigern's life and ministry in Strathclyde. Whether the miracles and the missionary work
of Kentigern are historically accurate may never be fully authenticated. However, the
people who wrote and read his Life considered Kentigern a saint and the Apostle to
Strathclyde. And it is the belief of the audience that constitutes the driving force
behind the cult of Kentigern.
on Saint Kentigern, Apostle to Strathclyde
1 Jocelyn Wogan-Browne and Glyn Burgess,
trans., Virgin Lives and Holy Deaths: Two Exemplary Biographies for Anglo-Norman Women (London: J.M. Dent, 1996) xi.
2 Thomas J. Heffernan, Sacred Biography: Saints and Their
Biographers in the Middle Ages (Oxford and New York: Oxford UP, 1988) 11.
3 Aviad Kleinberg, "Proving Sanctity: Selection and
Authentication of Saints in the Later Middle Ages," Viator 20 (1989): 187.
4 "Cette absorption de la personnalité par la figure idéale
du saint' dépourvue de toute caractéristique n'empêchait point la pratique du
culte dès que la coutume s'en était établie." Cinq leçons sur la méthode
hagiographique, SH 21 (Brussels, 1934), 10; quoted in John Kitchen, Saints' Lives
and the Rhetoric of Gender: Male and Female in Merovingian Hagiography (New York and
Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998) 26.
5 Libri Moralium sive Expositio in Librum Job; quoted in
6 David Townsend, "Hagiography," Medieval Latin: An
Introduction and Bibliographical Guide, ed. F. A. C. Mantello and A. G. Rigg
(Washington, D.C.: Catholic Univ. of America Press, 1996) 619.
7 Donald Weinsten and Rudolph M. Bell, Saints and Society: Two
Worlds of Western Christendom, 1000-1700 (Chicago and London: Univ. of Chicago Press,
8 A more complete discussion of the conventions of hagiography can
be found in The Legends of the Saints by H. Delahaye and in Michael Lapidge's
article "The Saintly Life in Anglo-Saxon England."
9 Kitchen 156.
10 Kitchen 26.
11 Several books on the cult of the saints have already covered
this subject in depth. See Stephen Wilson's Saints and their Cults, D. Rollason's Saints
and Relics in Anglo-Saxon England, and Peter Brown's Society and the Holy in Late
12 George Herzfeld, introduction, An Old English Martyrology,
EETS, o.s. 116 (New York: Klaus Reprint Co., 1990) ix.
13 Herzfeld viii.
14 De Civitate Dei, Aurelii Augustini Opera XIV, Corpus
Christianorum Series Latina 47-48 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1955) xxii. 10; quoted in David
Farmer, The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, 3rd ed. (Oxford and New York: Oxford UP,
15 The Sermons of St. Maximus of Turin, 12.2. 32; quoted
in Thomas Noble and Thomas Head, eds., introduction, Soldiers of Christ: Saints and
Saints' Lives from Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (University Park, Penn.:
Penn State UP, 1995) xxii.
16 André Vauchez, Sainthood in the Later Middle Ages,
trans. Jean Birrell (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997) 13.
17 Vauxhez 14.
18 Farmer 387-88.
19 Vauchez 14.
20 Bede, Ecclesiatical History of the English Nation,
trans. John Stevenson (London: J.M. Dent, 1954) III.29.
21 Wogan-Browne and Burgess 59. The chief Latin source for the
Acts of Laurence is H. Delehaye, "Recherches sur le légendier romain," Analecta
Bollandiana 51 (1933): 72-98.
22 Vauchez 15.
23 Weinstein and Bell 155.
24 See Robert Meyer's translation Palladius: The Lausiac
History (Westminster, Md.: Newman Press, 1965).
25 The Greek life of Antony can be found in Patrologia Graeca,
ed. J. P. Migne, xxvi. 835-978; for Antony's Latin life by Evagrius of Antioch, see Patrologia
Latina, lxxiii. 125-70.
26 The Life of Antony the Great (Willits, Ca.: Eastern
Orthodox Books, 1980); quoted in Noble and Head xxv.
27 Thomas Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization (New
York and London: Doubleday, 1995) 151.
28 W. W. Heist, ed., Vitae sanctorum hiberniae ex codice olim
Salmanticensi nunc Bruxellensi (Brussels: Société des Bollandistes, 1965) 404-407.
29 Cahill 152.
30 Nora Chadwick, Celtic Britain, Ancient Peoples and
Places, vol. 34 (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1963) 156. Other islands associated with
ascetic monks are Inishmurrey, 4 miles off the Sligo coast; North Rona in Scotland, nearly
60 miles north of the Butt of Lewis, and Sula Sgeir to the northwest.
31 Bede, "The Life and Miracles of St. Cuthbert: Bishop of
Lindisfarne" Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, trans. John
Stevenson (London, J. M. Dent, 1954) ch. 34.
32 Leslie Hardinge, The Celtic Church in Britain, Church
Historical Society series, 91 (London: S.P.C.K., 1972) 8.
33 Gildas, De Excidio, ed. and trans. M. Winterbottom
(London: Phillimore, 1978) 67.
34 Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, trans. G. N. Garmonsway (London:
J.M. Dent, 1984) 82.
35 Stephen Wilson, Saints and their Cults: Studies in
Religious Sociology, Folklore and History (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1983) 3. The title
"confessor" eventually came to refer to all saints who confessed their faith in
Christ and "all forms and experiences of religious life could give rise to a fama
sanctitatis" (Vauchez 15).
36 Vauchez 17.
37 Vauchez 17.
38 The Latin version of Martin can be found in Patrologia
Latini., xx. 159-222.
39 Sulpicius Severus, "The Life of St. Martin," trans.
F. R. Hoare, in Noble and Head 6. Constantius II was Roman emperor from 337-331. Julian,
called "the Apostate," reigned 361-363.
40 Sulpicius Severus 6.
41 Sulpicius Severus 8.
42 "Guthlac A," Anglo-Saxon Poetry, trans. and
ed. S. A. J. Bradley (London: J. M. Dent, 1995) 268.
43 Constantius of Lyon, "The Life of Saint Germanus of
Auxerre," trans. F. R. Hoare, in Noble and Head 79. Germanus was made the military
governor of Armorica (modern Brittany).
44 Constantius of Lyon 79, 80. The passage suggests that Germanus
was promoted directly to the order of bishop. "Though not usual, this did happen with
some frequency in late antiquity as communities sought spritual leaders who could replace
the patronage and protection formerly provided by lay leaders" (Noble and Head 79 n.
45 Constantius of Lyon 90. Germanus is named dux proelii,
"leader for this battle." When the Roman army had been withdrawn from Britain
between 407 and 410, the British had to rely on their own military forces to protect
themselves from the incursions of the Saxons and the Picts.
46 See Chapter 12 in Jocelyn's Life of St. Kentigern. For
further study on Pelagianism, see John Ferguson's Pelagius (Cambridge: Heffer,
47 The model seems to have been especially popular in Celtic vitae.
Some examples include the Welsh St. Cadoc, the Irish St. Columba, and the Scottish St.
Kentigern. The Anglo-Saxon Life of St. Guthlac also incorporates the theme of the
secular soldier who takes up the sword for Christ.
48 Vauchez 17.
49 Otto Gerhard Oexle, "Memoria und Memorialüberlieferung
im frühen Mittelalter," Frühmittelalterliche Studien 10 (1976): 84; quoted
in Patrick J. Geary, Living with the Dead in the Middle Ages (Ithaca: Cornell UP,
50 See Peter Brown, "Relics and Social Status in the Age of
Gregory of Tours," Society and the Holy in Late Antiquity (Berkeley: Univ. of
California Press, 1982) 222-250, and the annotated bibliography on saints' cults by
Stephen Wilson in Saints and Their Cults, 309-417.
51 Quoted in Geary 166.
52 Geary 167. On translations into northern Europe in the Early
Middle Ages, see K. Honselmann, "Reliquientranslationen nach Sachsen," Das
Erste Jahrtausend 1 (Düsseldorf, 1962), 159-193.
53 Geary 168.
54 Brown, Society 225.
55 Raymond Van Dam, Saints and Their Miracles in Late Antique
Gaul (Princeton:) 315.
56 Noble and Head xvii.
57 Wilson 5.
58 Karlmanni principis capitulare c. 5; quoted in Geary
59 Geary 172.
60 Willibald, "The Life of Saint Boniface," trans. C.
H. Talbot, in Noble and Head 137-138.
61 Heffernan 16. The author of a vita "is the
community, and consequently the experience presented by the narrative voice is
collective" (20). The vita, then, stands as a unique text that can be analyzed
from the different perspectives of secular and sacred, oral and written, private and
communal, and past and present.
62 Heffernan 35. For more on the collective voice, see J.
Ferster, Chaucer on Interprestation (Cambridge: Cambrige UP, 1985).
63 Alfred P. Smyth, Warlords and Holy Men: Scotland AD 80-100 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1984) 6. Smyth sees the very inaccessibility of the Strathclyde
tribes as the reason these tribes were able to evade any major cultural influence of Rome.
"The Damnonii were the most inaccessible of all the British tribes between the walls
[Hadrian's Wall and the Antonine Wall] from a southern or Roman point of view
and it is no coincidence that they survived longest of all the northern Britons
into the early eleventh century, under their later guise as the Britons of Dumbarton or
64 Nora K. Chadwick, The British Heroic Age: The Welsh and the
Men of the North (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1976) 64.
65 The name "Men of the North" comes from the Welsh Gwyr
66 See The Gododdin:The Oldest Scottish Poem, trans. and
ed. Kenneth Jackson (Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1969). In Kenneth Jackson's analysis of the Gododdin,
he argues that the poem, which recounts the sixth century battle at Catterick between the
men of the British kingdom of Gododdin and the Angles of Bernicia, survived to be written
down in a ninth century manuscript because the memory of the battle was kept alive in the
British court of Strathclyde. As Jackson notes, "Strathclyde did not fall to
Northumbria, and the kingdom retained its independence for three and one-half centuries
after lowland Scotland fell to the Angles of Northumbria" (63).
67 Smyth 67.
68 The Gododdin poem has this interesting variant on the
Battle of Strathcarron: "I saw an array, they came from the headland, and splendidly
they bore themselves around the conflagration. I saw two [groups], they had come down
swiftly from their town, they had arisen at the word of the grandson of Nwython. I saw
great sturdy men, they came with the dawn; and the head of Dyfnwal Frych (Domnall Brecc),
ravens gnawed it" (B.1).
69 Jackson, Gododdin 38. H. M. Chadwick's Early
Scotland contains probably the best overview of "Dark Age" Scotland,
although later scholarship has dispelled some of Chadwick's conclusions concerning the
70 Chadwick, The British Heroic Age 70. See also A. O. H.
Jarman, "The Heroic Ideal in Early Welsh Poetry," Beiträge zür
Indogermanistik und Keltologie (1967).
71 Jackson, The Gododdin 105.
72 Jackson, The Gododdin 40.
73 "Boasting" is also a characteristic of the heroic
feast. See Chapter 17 of Jocelyn's Life for a reference to the church's view of
74 Jean Markale, King Arthur: King of kings, trans.
Christine Hauch (Paris: Gordon and Cremonesi, 1977) 85.
75 Chadwick, The British Heroic Age, 73. See also Jackson,
"On the Northern British Section in Nennius," Celt and Saxon: Studies in
Early British Border, ed. N. K. Chadwick et al. (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1963) 53.
76 See E. G. Bowen, The Settlements of the Celtic Saints in
Wales (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1977). Bowen suggests that there was
extensive movement between Wales, southern Scotland, and Ireland from the second to the
seventh centuries based on the archaeological evidence of hut circles (70). Such contact
would infer a similarity of cultures and traditions.
77 The evidence includes: three Kirkmandrine gravestones, the
east end of the church at Whithorn, and three possible Celtic Christian artifacts at
Traprain Law (Hardinge 2). W. D. Simpson's The Celtic Church in Scotland (Aberdeen:
Aberdeen UP, 1935) also alludes to early Christian evidence, but as with Hardigne,
does not come to any solid conclusions concerning an organized church before the fifth
78 Markale 84.
79 See A. E. Thompson's article on "The Origins of
Christianity in Scotland " The Scottish Historical Review 37 (1958): 17-22.
Also Daphne Brooke gives a good analysis of the materials relating to Saint Ninian's fifth
century bishopric at Whithorn and the extent of his missionary activities among the
southern Picts in Galloway in Wild Men and Holy Places: St Ninian, Whithorn and the
Medieval Realm of Galloway (Edinburgh: Canongate Press, 1994) 23-33.
80 Ecclesiastical History III.5.
81 See Bede II.2 and V.15, 19.
82 Hardinge 131.
83 Hardinge 132.
84 De Excidio cvi-cvii.
85 The Liturgy and Ritual of the Celtic Church (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1881) 72.
86 Hardinge 20.
87 Sed licet consecratio Britonibus assueta, sacris canonibus
minus consona videature, non tamen vim aut efectum divini misterii, aut episcopalis
ministerii amittere comprobature (Jocelyn's Life of St. Kentigern Chap. 11).
88 Harding, 5.
89 Aliqua secte heretice erratica doctrina a sana fide
aberraverant (Jocelyn's Life of St. Kentigern Chap. 19). There are a total of
fourteen references in Kentigern's life that relate to his preaching against heretical
90 Possidius, "The Life of Saint Augustine," trans. F.
R. Hoare in Noble and Head 50.
91 Constantius of Lyon 85.
92 Constantius of Lyon 87.
93 See Chapter 22 of Jocelyn's Life, and the description
of Cathen as one "who impart[s] venomous whispers into the ears of those who freely
listen to iniquities."
94 Markale 86.
95 Celtic Britain 92.
96 King Arthur 88.
97 Archibald Duncan, Scotland: The Making of a Kingdom,
The Edinburgh History of Scotland, vol. 1 (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1975) 74.
98 Markale 86.
99 Chadwick, Celtic Britain 98.
100 Kenneth Jackson, "The Sources for the Life of St
Kentigern," Studies in the Early British Church, ed Nora Chadwick (Cambridge:
Cambridge UP, 1958) 320. Anderson in Early Sources of Scottish History, A.D. 500-1280 (Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1922) believes that this passage implies that the king paid
taxes to the bishop (I.365).
101 Gregory the Great, Moralia on Job XXXIII, Patrologia
Latini 76, 672.
102 Michael Richter, The Formation of the Medieval West:
Studies in the Oral Culture of the Barbarians (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994) 97.
103 Richter 103.
104 Táin Bó Cúalnge from the Book of Leinster, ed. and
trans. Cecille O'Rahilly (Dublin: DIAS, 1967) 272 translation; quoted in Richter, 229.
105 Kathleen Hughes, The Church in Early Irish Society (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1966) 156.
106 Richter 235.
107 See G. McFadden, "The Life of Waldeof and its Author,
Jocelin of Furness," Innes Review 6 (1955): 5-13.
108 Farmer 9.
109 Duncan 98.
110 John Prebble, The Lion in the North: A Personal View of
Scotland's History (New York: Coward, McCann and Geoghegan, Inc., 1971) 34.
111 The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, trans. G. N. Garmonsway
(London: J. M. Dent, 1984) D year 1072.
112 C. H. Lawrence, The English Church and the Papacy in the
Middle Ages (New York: Fordham UP, 1965) 72-74. Reforming popes sought to confirm the
selection of ecclesiastical officials. "This policy was demonstrated in the papal
promotion of the authority and jurisdiction of primates and metropolitans
instruments by which the highly centralized government of the Church could be applied in
its component parts; and so the symbolical importance of the pallium was increasingly
stressed, with the requirement that archbishops should receive from the pope himself this
token of their metroplitical office" (72). It was in this atmosphere that both
Lanfranc of Canterbury and Thomas of York travelled to Rome in 1071 for their pallia.
Archbishop Thomas did make a profession of canonical obedience to Lanfranc in the see of
Canterbury, but such submission was not accepted in the North. Gilley and Sheils relate,
"It was not until the middle of the fourteenth century that the last ecclesiastical
foray into the southern province was made by the Archbishop of York with his cross carried
before him erect, while His Grace of Canterbury pronounced sentence of interdict upon
every place in which his presumptuous brother prelate might dare to display this sign of
equal authority." Sheridan Gilley and W. J. Sheils, A History of Religion in
Britain: Practice and Belief from Pre-Roman Times to the Present (Cambridge, Mass.:
Blackwell, 1994) 48.
113 Duncan 124.
114 Duncan 120. It was at this time (1091) that William Rufus
(William II) "undertook to restore to [Malcolm] twelve vills in England and to pay
twelve merks annually, rights which Malcolm had held under William I" (121). The
annual fee suggests that this entitlement was for the use of the Scottish king when he
visited the English court.
115 Prebble 37.
116 Prebble 40. When Alexander appointed Turgot of Durham to the
vacant bishopric of St. Andrews, Turgot should have been consecrated by his metropolitan,
the archbishop of York. However "the consecration of an archbisop of York had been
delayed by his refusal to promise obedience to Canterbury, and Archbishop Anselm of
Canterbury refused to permit the bishop of Durham and the bishops of Scotland to
consecrate Turgot" (Duncan 128-129). Turgot was finally consecrated at York in 1109,
but only after he had reserved the authority of St. Andrew's "until the issues
between it and York could be investigated" (129).
117 Duncan 131.
118 Prebble 45.
119 Memorials of Fountains Abbey, ed. J. R. Walbran, Surtees
Society 42 (1863) I.15; quoted in R. W. Southern, Western Society and the Church in
the Middle Ages (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1970) 251.
120 "The Little Exford," The Cistercian World:
Monastic Writings of the Twelfth Century, trans. and ed. Pauline Matarasso (London:
Penguin Books, 1993) 8.
121 Southern, Western Society 258. The ceremony of
admision of a novice into the Cistercian community is described in the "Usus
conversorum" in Les monuments primitifs de la Règle Cistercienne, ed. P.
Guignard (Dijon: J. E. Rabutot, 1878) 285.
122 Melrose was founded in 1136; Newbattle near Edinburgh in
1140; Dundrennan in Galloway in 1142; Kinloss in Moray and Holm Cultram in Cumbria in
1150. It is probable that the abbey at Newbattle was not founded by David I.
123 Prebble 52. This promise had been made to David I by the
then Henry of Anjou for David's support of Henry's mother Matilda in her attempt to gain
the throne of England from Stephen.
124 Norman Shead, "The Origins of the Medieval Diocese of
Glasgow" 224. The Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae Medii Aevi ad annum 1638 lists
Magsuea, John and Michael as bishops of Glasgow. The only information concerning Magsuea
and John comes from Hugh the Chantor's History of the Church of York. Archbishop
Cynesige of York (1051-60) consecrated these two bishops, probably after 1055. Nothing is
known concerning the work of these bishops in Cumbria or Glasgow. Shead suggests that they
may not have immediate successors "due to the devastation of northern England by
William I in 1069-70." The bishopric of Glasgow had been in existence at least from
1117 when Hugh the Chantor wrote his history, "and the claims of York at that time to
supremacy over Glasgow probably influenced him in givng that title to Magsuea and John on
the basis that suffragans of York who could not be ascribed to Durham, Whithorn, the Isles
or the Orkneys must be bishops of Glasgow."
125 Duncan 258. However, the inquest relied on oral information
concerning the bishopric. This would suggest that there was still a remembrance of bishops
residing at Glasgow within living memory.
126 Duncan 260.
127 The symbols refer to a redbird brought back from the dead (Jocelyn's
Life of St. Kentigern Chap. 5); the hazel branch that became a torch with fire sent
from heaven (Chap. 6); a bell brought back from Rome (Chap. 27); the return of the king's
ring that had been swallowed by a fish (Chap. 36).
128 An old rhyme is also associated with the coat of arms of
Here's the Tree that never grew,
Here's the Bird that never flew;
Here's the Bell that never rang,
Here's the Fish that never swam. See David Daiches, Glasgow (London: 1977) 5.
129 Duncan 174.
130 Prebble 53. Also lost to Scotland were the castles of
Roxburgh, Berwick, Jedburgh, Edinburgh and Stirling. In 1186, Edinburgh was returned to
King William on condition that he give it to his new wife as part of her dowry.
131 Duncan 275.
132 Duncan 275. The bishoprics were St. Andrews, Glasgow,
Dunkeld, Dunblane, Brechin, Aberdeen, Moray, Ross, and Caithness.
133 E. G. Bowen in Saints, Seaways and Settlements (Cardiff, University of Wales Press, 1977) discusses the establishment of church
dedications to Saint Kentigern north of the Forth-Clyde isthmus, an area that was outside
of the saint's ministry as found in all the sources. Bowen suggests that these dedications
"are best explained as derived from the 12th century revival of [Kentigern's] cult
resulting in dedications to him carried norhtward by the zeal and enthusiasm of David I
the first king of all Scotland. David himself had been Earl of Cumbria and might
have had a special regard for Kentigern, so it was only to be expected that he should
figure alongside of St. Ninian among the many southern influences which the new king
introduced to the North" (92-3).
134 The classic study of the medieval sermo humilis remains Erich Auerbach's Literatursprache und Publikum in der lateinischen Spätantike
und im Mittelalter (Bern: Franke Verlag, 1958), translated as Literary Language and
Its Public in Late Latin Antiquity and in the Middle Ages by Ralph Manheim (Princeton:
Princeton UP, 1965).
135 Auerback 50-51.
136 Heffernan 19. This privileging of a literary audience became
more important after the late eleventh century consolidation of the canonization process
by the Vatican, especially under Pope Alexander III. After canonization became restricted,
"most stories, anecdotes, and legends which comprised the basic data of the sacred
biographer were selected, adapted, and retold so as to conform to the dictates of the
Vatican's administrative policy concerning canonization and to promote the cultus of the
saint beyond its original locale" (22). Yet, even at this point, the hagiographer
still had to be aware of conflicts within his text and the community's beliefs so as not
to alienate the text from the center of its cult.
137 Chapter 1 of Jocelyn's Life; my italics. The Latin
text is taken from The Lives of S. Ninian and S. Kentigern, ed. A. P. Forbes, The
Historians of Scotland Series, vol. 5 (Edinburgh, 1874). All references to the Latin text
are from this edition unless otherwise noted.
138 See David Townsend's article on eleventh century hagiography
"Anglo-Latin Hagiography and the Norman Transition" Exemplaria 3 (1991):
391. Townsend applies the reader-response theories of Stanley Fish and Wolfgang Iser as
tools for understanding late eleventh century Anglo-Saxon saints' lives. Such an analysis
does provide new avenues of exploring the texts; however, these theories fail to
acknowledge the role of the text itself as an object of veneration created by the author.
139 A comparative study of Jocelyn's Life of Saint Kentigern with his Life of Saint Patrick may bring out other similarities and differences in
framing a particular style to meet the expectations of an audience.
140 Terence O.Tunberg, "Prose Styles and Cursus," Medieval Latin: An Introduction and Bibliographical Guide, ed. F. A.C. Mantello and
A. G. Rigg (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1996) 114.
141 Townsend, "Ango-Latin" 392.
142 Townsend, "Anglo-Latin" 392; see also Auerback,
143 The preface of Sulpicius Severus' fifth century Life of
Saint Martin contains an even more self-effacing trope: "For I am the weakest of
creatures and was loath to submit it [the vita] to the world's judgment, for fear
that an all too unpolished diction should prove displeasing to the reader (as indeed I
think it will) and that I should be deemed the proper object of general reprobation for
having had the effrontery to annex a subject that should have been reserved for writers of
144 See Tunberg 111-121. Tunberg discusses in great detail the
evolution of Latin style and remarks, "Some authors of this period [12th century]
share a tendency towards classicism. Imitation in the eleventh and twelfth centuries
remains at the level of decoration, and most classicizing prose is still wholly medieval
in structure, syntax, and vocabulary" (113).
145 Ailred writes, Hinc est quod vitam sanctissimi Niniani,
quam morum sancttas et miracula clara commendant, sermo barbaricus obscurabat, et quo
minus delectabat legentem eo minus edificabat (Forbes 137). Compare this to Jocelyn's
description of the earlier life of Kentigern as sermone barbarico nimis obscurari.
146 Prius quam te formarem in utero novi te; et, antequam
exires de ventre, sanctificavi te; et prohetam in gentibus dedi te and vas
147 See Chap. 2 Timendum illis plane quod per
prophetam Dominus comminatur, dicens; Chap. 8 superest tibi corona justicie,
quam tibi in proximo reddet justus judex where Jocelyn appropriates the words of Paul
and places them in the mouth of Kentigern.
148 The native language in Strathclyde was similar to Welsh and
survived into the nineteenth century. However, with the unification of Strathclyde and
Scotland sometime in the eleventh century, Gaelic was introduced and was assimilated by
the people of the area. The Northumbrian rulers of Lothian and the Norman colonization
added still another linguistic layer. The answer as to what language the "little
book" was written depends on making inferences as to the date of the "book"
and the motive for its writing, inferences that would rely mainly on conjecture.
149 See Chap. 6 of The Life of St. Kentigern for an
example of Jocelyn's use of oral tradition.
150 Rachel Bromwich, The Welsh Triads, 2nd ed. (Cardiff:
University of Wales Press, 1978) 28.
151 Bowen, The Settlements of the Celtic Saints 74.
However, the number of church dedications to Kentigern in the north argues for a real and
continuing tradition relating to Saint Kentigern at least in that region.
152 Jackson, "Sources" 273-357.
153 John McNamara, "Legends of Breca and Beowulf," Southern
Folklore 53.3 (1996): 155.
154 J. M. Picard, "Structural Patterns in Early
Hiberno-Latin Hagiography." Peritia 4 (1985): 67-82; quoted in Dorothy Ann
Bray, A List of Motifs in the Lives of the Early Irish Saints (Helsinki:Suomalainen
Tiedeakatemia, 1992) 12.
155 Bray 14.
156 Elissa Henken, The Welsh Saints: A Study in Patterned
Lives (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1991) 2.
157 Elissa Henken 23-4.
158 Saint Enoch. Other variations of her name are Taneu, Thaney,
Dwynwen, and Tannoc. It is possible that Tannoc may be derived from "Tannith,"
who was a female personification of the Sun God. The ending oc is a
diminuative denoting affection. See Reginald Hale, The Beloved: St Mungo, Founder of
Glasgow (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 1989) 123.
159 Urien of Rheged is a well-known character in Welsh
literature. In the Historia Brittonum and in poems ascribed to Taliesin, Urien
leads a British host and besieged Hussa of Bernicia at Lindisfarne. Urien is betrayed and
killed during this battle, and his son Owen succeeds him (Smyth 22).
160 Owen was made famous in the medieval Welsh romances Lady
of the Fountain and the Dream of Rhonabwy, both stories that were later
incorporated by Chrétien de Troyes into his Arthurian romances on Yvain.
161 A. W. Wade-Evans, Vitae Sanctorum Brittaniae et
Genealogiae (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1944) 27. St. Dewi and St. Dyfrig
were also conceived through rape. Saints Beuno, Collen, and Padarn were conceived as the
result of the sole sexual experience of their mothers. The various stories of Kentigern's
conception known during Jocelyn's time can be inferred to be part of a larger Brittonic
162 Cormac was the illegitimate son of a High King who slept
with his mother, Achtan, only once. The motif of engaging in sexual relations only once
can be seen in Saint Padarn's life. Lugh, who gives his name to the harvest festival
Lughnasadh, was believed to be the son of an unknown earthly father, although he himself
is a divine being. See Edain McCoy, Celtic Myth & Magic (St. Paul, Minn.:
Llewellyn Publications, 1997) 273, 311.
163 Jeremiah 1:5; Latin text from the Vulgate.
164 However, it should be noted that the author of the
fragmentary life does not suggest that Kentigern was born of a virgin birth. Instead the
life recounts the tale of Owain dressing in women's clothes and seducing Theneu. It is
possible that this was one strategy for glossing a local oral tradition that even the
anonymous author considered too outlandish to retell.
165 The idea of a noble pedigree is not limited to Insular
saints. By the end of the fifth century, "the descendants of the imperial aristocracy
had become the subjects of Gothic, Vandal, and Frankish kings. In this new world order,
men from the old Roman elite turned to ecclesiastical careers as a means of retaining and
exercising power" (Noble and Head xxvi). As patronage become more prominent in the
cult of the saints and the focus shifted from sanctity derived by martyrdom to the
ecclesiastical ascetic life, it was but a short step to integrate nobility (those who had
previously provided favors) into the requirements for sainthood.
166 Forbes 125. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth's The
History of the Kings of Britain, trans. and intro. Lewis Thorpe (Harmondsworth:
Penguin Books, 1976), Loth was given Arthur's sister Anne in marriage (208-209). This
would make Kentigern a nephew of King Arthur though his mother. However, Geoffrey
contradicts himself on p.221 by saying that Loth marries the sister of Aurelius Ambrosius.
This marriage would make Arthur and Kentigern cousins.
167 Geoffrey only mentions two sons Sir Gawaine, the most
courteous of knights, and the traitor Mordred. A metrical romance called "Arthour and
Merlin" adds Guiheres, Agrenain and Gaheriet. But regardless of how many sons Lot is
said to have had, all the stories agree that he only had one daughter, Theneu. The lineage
of Theneu, and thus of Kentigern, continued to be recognized in the legends surrounding
Arthur as seen in the more biased writing of the fourteenth century chronicler Fordun:
"When Uther, King of the Britons, as also his brother Aurelius of good memory, had
through the perfidy of the Saxons perished by poison, his son Arthur by a faction of
certain persons succeeded to the kingdom, which however was not due to him of right,
inasmuch as he was born in adultery of Igerna, the wife of Gorlois Duke of Cornwall, in
the castle of Tintagel, through the unheard-of art of the prophet Merlin, as Galfridus at
large in his book De Bruto attests; but to Anne, sister that is of Aurelius, or
rather to her children, because she, procreated of a legitimate marriage, was matrionially
united to the Consul Loth, Scottish Lord of Lothian and the King of Norway, who was
derived from the noble race of Duke Fulgentius. By her he had two sons, Galwanus and the
elder Modred, whom some indeed, but erroneously, report to have been otherwise procreated;
as also that holy woman called Thanes, the mother of Kentigern; whence by the right of
legitimate succession the kingdom of Britain was due to Modred" (Scotichonicon,
III.24); quoted in the Aberdeen Breviary (Maitland Club, 1854) 34.
168 Forbes 125.
169 Heffernan 9. For a hagiographer such as Jocelyn, narrating
the tale of Kentigern's birth in language that echoes the birth of Christ is a way of
illustrating the divine nature of Kentigern to his audience.
170 See Chapter 4 of Jocelyn's Life.
171 Latin text can be found in Forbes 252; translation in Forbes
172 Saint Lucy was a virgin and martyr said to have died in the
persecution of Diocletion. She was known in England from the time of Aldhelm in the
seventh century, and he praised her in his treatises on virginity. According to her life,
she was sentenced to a brothel, but was made immovable by a divine miracle. See Farmer
173 Paul Fouracre and Richard Gerberding, Late Merovingian
France: History and Hagiography, 640-720 (Manchester: Manchester UP, 1996) 45.
174 The rather expirtiated form of the story found in Chapter 45
of Jocelyn's Life comes from the same fifthteenth century manuscript in which is
found the fragmentary life of Kentigern. This tale, entitled Vita Merlini Silvestris,
is a variant of Geoffrey of Monmouth's poem Vita Merlini. Winifred and John
MacQueen believe that "it is possible that both the fragmentary Life and the
first part at least of the Vita Merlini Sivestris are by the same author and were
extracted from a more complete version of the Life of Kentigern, otherwise lost,
apart from the prose lections in the Sprouston [Edinburgh] Breviary"
("Vita Merlini Silvestris," Scottish Studies 29 (1989):77). It is
tempting to think that this lost life might be the "little book," which both the
anonymous author of the fragmentary Life and Jocelyn refer to as a source in their
175 King Rederech, Saint Kentigern, and "Medred,"
possibly a local chieftain. However, the prophecy of these three men is not fulfilled in
the story of the Vita Merlini Silvestris, but rather the text ends with Kentigern
and his clergy hearing that Lailoken's prophecy of his own death had come to pass.
176 MacQueen 86.
177 Jackson, "Sources" 329. This would have been the
battle of Arfderydd that was fought in 573 according to the Annales Cambriae. In
Geoffrey's Vita Merlini, "Gwenddolau is defeated by Rodarchus (Rederech) and
Peredurus. Merlin is on the side of the latter pair, [but] is driven mad by the death of
his three brothers, and becomes a man of the woods" (MacQueen 90).
178 Brynley Roberts's article entitled "Myrddin,"
forthcoming in the Encyclopedia of Medieval Folklore.
179 Chapter 45 of Jocelyn's Life of Saint Kentigern.
180 Jackson, "Sources" 329.
181 I wish to thank Dr. Carl Lindahl for bringing to my
attention the various possibilities in the omission of Arthur from Jocelyn's text.
182 Henken 3.
183 See The Life of Saint Cybi, Wade-Evans 27-8.
184 Compare Chapter 8 in Kentigern's Life with John
185 In this particular case, the eyewitness is the tomb of the
cook on which is written the story of his resurrection.
186 The Mabinogion, trans. Jeffrey Gantz (New York:
Penguin Books, 1976) 243.
187 Brigitte Cazelles, "Introduction," in
Blumenfeld-Kosinski and Timea Szell 3.
188 Heffernan 10. Gregory saw the lives of saints as
paradigmatic and collective. Individual saints may have variations in how they are
represented, but each saint will reflect an unchanging universal model of sanctity.
189 The Mabinogion 89, 114-5.
190 See Bethada Náem nÉrenn, ed. and trans. Charles
Plummer (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1922) 2, 18.
191 Stith Thompson, Motif-Index of Folk-Literature, 6
vols. (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana UP, 1955). For a further analysis of the use of stags
in Celtic literature, see Tom Peate Cross's Motif-Index of Early Irish Literature (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana UP, 1952).
192 See Thompson B548.2.2.
193 Kenneth Jackson, International Popular Tale and Early
Welsh Tradition (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1961) 27. Jackson sees such
popular tales as migrating into sacred literature: "When a tale well-known in secular
popular lore turns up in a religious text, I do not myself believe we are justified in
supposing, without strong supporting evidence, that it is of religious origin and had
spread from religious literature into popular lore, rather than vice versa, or not unless
it has an essential religious point which cannot be removed without destroying the
tale" (27). However this view discounts the known practice of one hagiographer
appropriating another writer's narratives and reworking them for his own writings. In the
use of this particular story, Jocelyn's immediate source was probably St. Brigit's life.
194 See Chapter 36 in Jocelyn's Life of Saint Kentigern.
195 Hale 73.
196 Wilson 29.
197 See Chapter 44 in Jocelyn's Life of Saint Kentigern.
198 See the healing of the paralyzed women in Chapter 45 of
Constantius' Life of Saint Germanus; the miracles after the death of Saint Cadoc in
199 Vauchez 22-32.
200 Herbert had previously been Abbot of the Tyronensian Abbey
of Selkirk and Kelso. The anonymous author of this vita only describes himself as
one who had traveled much and had become a cleric of Saint Kentigern. The fragmentary life
exists in only one manuscript located in the British Museum and numbered Cotton Titus A.
xix. f. 76-80.
201 Forbes 159-242. Pinkerton used the Cotton Vitellius C. viii
ms. in the British Museum in making his edition of Jocelyn's Life of St. Kentigern.
Forbes based his edition on a collation of the British Museum ms. with the manuscript
containing Keintigern's vita located "in Archbishop Marsh's library in
Dublin'" (lxiv). The Dublin ms. is numbered V. 3. 4. 16.
202 Bishop Jocelyn had been abbot of Melrose Abbey, a Cistercian
house. He was consecrated at Clairvaux by papal command and by a papal legate. See Duncan
203 Jackson, "Sources" 276.
204 Forbes xciv. The manuscript is called the Sprouston
[Edinburgh] Breviary and is recorded as 18.2.13b in the National Library of Scotland.
205 Edited by Maitland Club, Winter, part 3, 1854.
206 Jackson, "Sources" 281.
207 Tunberg 111.
208 E. G. Bowen, however, does see some merit in the possibility
that Kentigern did preach in this area. "Throughout the Middle Ages there was
undoubtedly a revival of the cult of many a Celtic Saint and new churches were dedicated
to them throughout the Celtic lands. Most frequently, a revival of a saint's cult,
expressing itself in new dedications, coincided with the publication of his Life,"
in The Settlements of the Celtic Saints in Wales 7. Bowen refers to Jocelyn's Life
of Saint Kentigern and the number of new dedications to the Saint after the Life was written. "It will, however, be noted that in this instance, as well as in almost
all known instances of the revival of a saint's cult in the Middle Ages, the new church
was placed in territory where not only a tradition of the saint's activity survived, but
also where there were several churches previously dedicated to him. In other words,
re-dedication takes place within the original culture area" (8).
209 See Forbes lxxix.
210 The mystery of this charter may become a bit less obscure
when the politics involving the see of St Asaph are taken into consideration. York wished
to be the metropolitan of St Asaph, and also metropolitan over the diocese of Glasgow. It
would have suited the political interests of York if the monastery and bishopric of St
Asaph were originally founded by the same saint who founded the bishopric at Glasgow. See
Christopher Brooke, The Church and the Welsh Border in the Central Middle Ages (Suffolk: Boydell Press, 1986) 18.
211 Jackson, "Sources" 325.
212 Jackson, International Popular Tale 51.
213 See C. Plummer's Vitae Sanctorum Hiberniae I.224
214 See P. Hunter Blair, The Origins of Northumbria (Gateshead on Tyne: 1948) 22-3.
215 Duncan 283.
216 Vol. I (Paisley: Alexander Gardner 1889).
A Note on the Translation
This modern translation used the text edited by Forbes as its basic source. Forbes used
the manuscript preserved in Archbishop Marsh's library in Dublin, designated V.3.4.16, in
his edition of the Jocelyn's Life of Saint Kentigern. A second manuscript of
Jocelyn's Life also exists in the British Museum, and is numbered Cotton Vitellius
C.viii. ff. 148-195. This manuscript was used by Pinkerton, and W. M. Metcalfe revised
Pinkerton's work and published it as Lives of the Scottish Saints.216 Where there are major variations between the two manuscripts, I have noted the variation
in the footnote as (B.M.) and given the text used in both manuscripts. However, if a
variation did not effect the meaning of the text, I have not noted it. All glosses in the
margin of the manuscript are noted in the footnotes to the translation.
I have modernized spelling, punctuation, and edited the paragraph structure where the
narrative of the story indicated a break. The purpose of this translation is to provide
medieval historians and rhetoricians access to a concise modern English text of Jocelyn's
Life of Saint Kentigern, and to that end, I have tried to remain as faithful as possible
to the literal meaning of the text. Although I have made notes on the rhetorical style of
Jocelyn, the translation itself does not reflect the rhetorical pyrotechnics of Jocelyn's
latinity. I have chosen instead to provide as direct a translation as possible in a style
readable for all levels of medieval scholars, as well as for the general reader. A direct
quotation from the Vulgate has been marked by italics, and all Scriptural references come
from the King James Version of the Bible. Other than these amendments, I have followed the
text as edited by Forbes.
The Aberdeen Breviary. Maitland Club, 1854.
Adomnán of Iona. Life of St Columba. Trans. Richard Sharpe. London and New
York: Penguin Books, 1995.
Alcuin. "The Life of Saint Willibrord." Trans. C. H. Talbot. Soldiers of
Christ: Saints and Saints' Lives from Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Ed.
Thomas Noble and Thomas Head. University Park, Penn.: Pennsylvania State UP, 1995.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Trans. G. N. Garmonsway. London: J. M. Dent, 1984.
Annales Cambriae. Ed. and trans. John Morris. Chichester: Phillimore, 1980.
Athanasius. The Life of St. Anthony the Great. Willits, Ca.: Eastern Orthodox
Augustine. De Civitate Dei. Aurelii Augustini Opera XIV. Corpus Christianorum
Series Latina 47-48. Turnhout: Brepols, 1955.
Bede. Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation. Trans. John Stevenson.
London: J. M. Dent, 1954. Also ed. and trans. Bertram Colgrave and R. A. B. Mynors.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969.
"The Cattle Raid of Fróech." Early Irish Myths and Sagas. Trans.
Jeffrey Gantz. London and New York: Penguin Books. 113-26.
Capgrave, John. Nova Legenda Angliae. Ed. Carl Horstmann. Oxford: Clarendon
Cogitosus. "Life of St. Brigit." Trans. S. Connolly and J.-M. Picard. Journal
of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 117 (1987): 5-27.
Constantius of Lyon. "The Life of Saint Germanus of Auxerre." Trans. F. R.
Hoare. Soldiers of Christ: Saints and Saints' Lifes from Late Antiquity and the Early
Middle Ages. Ed. Thomas Noble and Thomas Head. University Park, Pennsylvania:
Pennsylvania State UP, 1995. 75-106.
Chrétien de Troyes. Arthurian Romances. Trans. W. W. Comfort. New York: Barnes
and Noble, 1964.
Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae Medii Aevi ad annum 1638. 2nd draft. Ed.
D.E.R.Watt Edinburgh: Scottish Record Office, 1969.
Forbes, A. P., ed. The Lives of S. Ninian and S. Kentigern. The Historians of
Scotland Series. Vol. V. Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1872.
Fordun, John of. Scotichronicon: Chronicle of the Scottish Nation. Ed. W. F.
Skene. The Historians of Scotland Series. Vol. IV. Edingburgh: Edmonston and Douglas,
Geoffrey of Monmouth. The History of the Kings of Britain. Trans. and intro.
Lewis Thorpe. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1966.
----------. Vita Merlini (The Life of Merlin). Ed. and trans. J. J. Parry.
Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1925.
Gerald of Wales. The History and Topography of Ireland. Trans. John F. O'Meara.
Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1982.
----------. The Journey Through Wales/The Description of Wales. Trans. Lewis
Thorpe. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1978.
Gildas. De Excidio Britanniae: The Ruin of Britain and Other Works. Ed. and
trans. M. Winterbottom. History from the Sources: Arthurian Period Sources 7. Gen. ed.
John Moris. London: Phillimore, 1978.
The Gododdin: The Oldest Scottish Poem. Trans. Kenneth Jackson. Edinburgh:
Edinburgh UP, 1969.
Gregory I, Pope. Dialogues. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America
Press in association with Consoritum Books, 1959.
"Guthlac A." Anglo-Saxon Poetry. Trans. and ed. S. A. J. Bradley.
London: J. M. Dent, 1995. 248-268.
Herzfeld, George, ed. An Old English Martyrology. Early English Text Society,
o.s. 116. Millwood, New York: Kraus Reprint Co., 1973.
Hugh the Chantor. History of the Church of York 1066-1127. Ed. C. Johnson.
London: Nelson's Medieval Texts, 1961.
The Irish Penitentials. Ed. and trans. Ludwig Bieler. Dublin: DIAS, 1963.
Wogan-Browne, Jocelyn and Glyn S. Burgess, trans. "The Life of St. Lawrence." Virgin Lives and Holy Deaths. London: J. M. Dent, 1996.
"The Little Exford." The Cistercian World: Monastic Writings of the
Twelfth Century. Ed. and trans. Pauline Matarasso. London: Penguin Books, 1993. 5-9.
The Mabinogion. Trans. Jeffrey Gantz. London and New York: Penguin Books, 1976.
Nennius. History of the Britons. Ed. A. W. Wade-Evans. London: Society for
Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1938.
Palladius. The Lausiac History. Ed. and trans. Robert Meyer. Ancient Christian
Writers, no. 34. Westminster, Md.: Newman Press, 1965.
The Patrician Texts in the Book of Armagh. Ed. and trans. Ludwig Bieler.
Scriptores Latini Hiberniae 10. Dublin: DIAS, 1979.
Pinkerton, J., ed. Vitae Antiquae Sanctorum Scotiae. Revised and trans. W. M.
Metcalfe. Paisley: A. Gardner 1885.
Plummer, Charles, ed. and trans. Bethada Náem nÉvenn, Lives of Irish Saints.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1922.
----------. Vitae Sanctorum Hiberniae. 2 vol. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910.
Possidius. "The Life of Saint Augustine." Trans. F. R. Hoare. Soldiers of
Christ: Saints and Saints' Lifes from Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Ed.
Thomas Noble and Thomas Head. University Park, Penn.: Pennsylvania State UP, 1995. 31-73.
Rees, William Jenkins, ed. and trans. The Lives of the Cambro-British Saints.
London: Longman & Co., 1853.
Rhigyfarch's Life of St. David. Ed. and trans. J. W. James. Cardiff: University
of Wales Press, 1967.
Sulpicius Severus. "The Life of Saint Martin of Tours." Trans. F. R. Hoare. Soldiers
of Christ: Saints and Saints' Lives from Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Ed.
Thomas Noble and Thomas Head. University Park, Pensylvania.: Pennsylvania State UP, 1995.
The Táin. Trans. Thomas Kinsella. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1969.
Táin Bó Cúalnge from the Book of Leinster. Ed. Cecille O'Rahilly. Dublin:
Turgot, Bishop of St. Andrews. The Life of St. Margaret, Queen of Scotland. Ed.
William Forbes-Leith. 2nd ed. London: T. Baker, 1889.
Two Lives of St Cuthbert. Ed. and trans. B. Colgrave. Cambridge: Cambridge UP,
"Usus conversorum." Les Monuments Primitifs de la Règle Cistercienne.
Ed. P. Guignard. Dijon: J. E. Rabutot, 1878.
Wade-Evans, A. W. Vitae Sanctorum Britanniae et Genealogiae. Cardiff: University
of Wales Press, 1944.
"The Wild Man Comes to the Monastery." A Celtic Miscellany. Trans.
Kenneth Jackson. London and New York: Penguin Books, 1971. 255.
Willibald. "The Life of Saint Boniface." Trans. C. H. Talbot. Soldiers of
Christ: Saints and Saints' Lifes from Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Ed.
Thomas Noble and Thomas Head. University Park, Penn.: Penn State UP, 1995. 107-140.
Aarne, Antti and Stith Thompson. The Types of the Folk-Tale: a classification and
bibliography. Helsinki: Suimalainen Tiedeakatemia, Academia Scientarum Fennica, 1928.
Anderson, Alan Orr, ed. and trans. Early Sources of Scottish History, A.D. 500-1280.
2 vols. Edinburgh and London: Oliver and Boyd, 1922.
----------. "Ninian and the Southern Picts." The Scottish Historical
Review 27 (1948):
Auerbach, Erich. Literary Language & Its Public in Late Latin Antiquity and in
the Middle Ages. Trans. Ralph Manheim. Bollingen Series LXIV. Princeton: Princeton UP,
Bannerman, John. Studies in the History of Dalriada. Edinburgh: Scottish
Academic Press, 1974.
Bäuml, Franz. "Varieties and Consequences of Medieval Literacy and
Illiteracy." Speculum 55 (1980): 237-265.
Bentley, James. Restless Bones: The Story of Relics. London: Constable and Co.,
Blair, P. Hunter. An Introduction to Anglo-Saxon England. 2nd ed.
London: Cambridge UP, 1977.
Bowen, E. G. Saints, Seaways and Settlements in the Celtic Lands. Cardiff:
University of Wales Press, 1977.
-----------. The Settlements of the Celtic Saints in Wales. Cardiff: University
of Wales Press, 1956.
Bray, Dorothy Ann. A List of Motifs in the Lives of the Early Irish Saints.
Folklore Fellows Communications, no. 252. Helsinki: Academia Scientiarum Fennica, 1992.
Bromwich, Rachel. Trioedd Ynys Prydein: The Welsh Triads. 2nd ed. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1978.
Brooke, Christopher. The Church and the Welsh Border in the Central Middle Ages.
Suffolk: Boydell Press, 1986.
Brooke, Daphne. Wild Men and Holy Places: St Ninian, Whithorn and the Medieval Realm
of Galloway. Edinburgh: Canongate Press, 1994.
Brown, Peter. The Cult of the Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981.
-----------. Society and the Holy in Late Antiquity. Berkeley and Oxford:
University of California Press, 1982.
Cahill, Thomas. How the Irish Saved Civilization. New York and London:
Carney, James. Studies in Irish Literature and History. Dublin: DIAS, 1955.
Cazelles, Brigitte. Introduction. Images of Sainthood in Medieval Europe. Ed.
Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski and Timea Szell. Ithaca and London: Cornell UP, 1991. 1-17.
Chadwick, H. M. Early Scotland. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1949.
Chadwick, Nora K. The British Heroic Age: The Welsh and the Men of the North.
Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1976.
----------. "The Celtic Background of Early Anglo-Saxon England." Celt and
Saxon: Studies in the Early British Border. Ed. N. K. Chadwick, et al. Cambridge:
Cambridge UP, 1963. 323-52.
----------. Celtic Britain. Ancient Peoples and Places. Vol. 34. New York:
Rederick A. Praeger, 1963.
Charles-Edwards, Thomas M. "The Social Background to Irish Peregrinatio." Celtica 11 (1976): 43-59.
Crane, Susan. Insular Romance: Politics, Faith, and Culture in Anglo-Norman and
Middle English Literature. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986.
Crawford, S. J. Anglo-Saxon Influence on Western Christendom: 600-800. Oxford:
Oxford UP, 1933.
Cross, Tom Peate. Motif-Index of Early Irish Literature. Bloomington, Indiana:
Indiana UP, 1952.
Daiches, David. Glasgow. London: Deutsch, 1977.
Davies, R. R. Conquest, Coexistence, and Change: Wales 1063-1415. Oxford and New
York: Clarendon Press, 1987.
Davies, Wendy. An Early Welsh Microcosm: Studies in the Landaff Charters.
London: Royal Historical Society, 1978.
Delehaye, Hippolyte. Legends of the Saints. Trans. Donald Attwater. New York:
Fordham UP, 1962.
Dumville, David. "Sub-Roman Britain: History and Legend," History 62
Duncan, Archibald A. Scotland: The Making of the Kingdom. The Edinburgh History
of Scotland. Vol. I. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1975.
Ellis, Peter Berresford. The Druids. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans
Publishing Co., 1994.
Farmer, David. The Oxford Dictionary of Saints. 3rd ed. Oxford and
New York: Oxford UP, 1992.
Ferguson, John. Pelagius. Cambridge: Heffer, 1956.
Fouracre, Paul and Richard Gerberding. Late Merovingian France: History and
Hagiography, 640 720. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1996.
Fox, Robin Lane. Christians and Pagans. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1989.
Gantz, Jeffrey, trans. Early Irish Myths and Sagas. London: Penguin Books, 1981.
Geary, Patrick J. Living with the Dead in the Middle Ages. Ithaca: Cornell UP,
Gilley, Sheridan and W. J. Sheils. A History of Religion in Britain: Practice and
Belief from Pre-Roman Times to the Present. Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 1994.
Green, Miranda. Symbol & Image in Celtic Religious Art. London: Routledge,
Hale, Reginald. The Beloved: St Mungo, Founder of Glasgow. Ottawa: University of
Ottawa Press, 1989.
Hardinge, Leslie. The Celtic Church in Britain. Church Historical Society
Series. 91. London: S.P.C.K., 1972.
Harris, S. "The Kalendar of the Vitae Sanctorum Wallensium." Journal
of the Historical Society of the Church in Wales 3 (1953): 3-53.
Heffernan, Thomas J. Sacred Biography: Saints and Their Biographers in the Middle
Ages. Oxford and New York: Oxford UP, 1988.
Henken, Elissa. "The Saint as Folk Hero: Biographical Patterning in Welsh
Hagiography." Celtic Folklore and Christianity: Studies in Memory of William W.
Heist. Ed. Patrick K. Ford. Santa Barbara, Ca.: McNally & Loftin, 1983. 58-74.
----------. The Welsh Saints: A Study in Patterned Lives. Cambridge: D. S.
Herm, Gerhard. The Celts. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996.
Hill, Bennett D. English Cistercian Monasteries and Their Patrons in the Twelfth
Century. Urbana: University of Illinios Press, 1968.
Hughes, Kathleen. The Church in Early Irish Society. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1966.
Jackson, Kenneth. The International Popular Tale and Early Welsh Tradition.
Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1961.
----------. Language and History in Early Britain: Chronological Survey of the
Brittonic Languages, First to Twelfth Century A.D. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh
----------. "On the Northern British Section in Nennius." Celt and Saxon:
Studies in the Early British Border. Ed. N. K. Chadwick, et al. Cambridge: Cambridge
UP, 1963. 20-62.
----------. "The Sources for the Life of St Kentigern." Studies in the
Early British Church. Ed. Nora Chadwick. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1958. 273-357.
Jarman, A. O. "The Merlin Legend and the Welsh Tradition of Prophecy." Arthur
of the Welsh: The Arthurian Legend in Medieval Welsh Literature. Ed. Rachel Bromwich,
A. Jarman, and Brynley Roberts. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1991. 117-45.
----------. "The Welsh Myrddin Poems." Arthurian Literature in the Middle
Ages. Ed. R. S. Loomis. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. 20-30.
Jones, Evan D. "The Book of Llandaff." National Library of Wales Journal 4 (1945-6): 123-63.
Jones, Michael. The End of Roman Britain. Ithaca and London: Cornell UP, 1996.
Jones, T. Gwynn. Welsh Folklore and Folk-Custom. London: Methuen & Co.,
Kleinberg, Aviad. "Proving Sanctity: Selection and Authentication of Saints in the
Later Middle Ages." Viator 20 (1989): 183-206.
Lapidge, Michael. "The Saintly Life in Anglo-Saxon England." The Cambridge
Companion to Old English Literature. Ed. Malcolm Godden and Michael Lapidge.
Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1991. 243-263.
----------. "The Study of Latin Texts in Late Anglo-Saxon England." Latin
and the Vernacular Languages in Early Medieval Britain. Ed. Nicholas Brooks.
Leicester: Leicester UP, 1982. 99-140.
Lawrence, C. H. The English Church and the Papacy in the Middle Ages. New York:
Fordham UP, 1965.
Lindahl, Carl. "The Oral Undertones of Late Medieval Romance." Oral
Tradition in the Middle Ages. Ed. W. F. H. Nicolaisen. Medieval & Renaissance
Texts & Studies, vol. 112. Binghamton, New York: SUNY at Binghamton, 1995.
Little, Lester K. "Spiritual Sanctions in Wales." Images of Sainthood in
Medieval Europe. Ed. Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski and Timea Szell. Ithaca and London:
Cornell UP, 1991. 67-80.
MacQueen, Winifred and John. "Vita Merlini Silvestris." Scottish Studies 29
Markale, Jean. King Arthur: King of Kings. Trans. Christine Hauch. Paris: Gordon
and Cremonesi, 1977.
McCoy, Edain. Celtic Myth & Magick. St. Paul, Minn.: Llewellyn Publications,
McFadden, G. "The Life of Waldeof and its Author, Jocelin of Furness." Innes
Review 6 (1955): 5-13.
McNamara, John. "Legends of Breca and Beowulf." Southern Folklore 53.3
McNeill, John T. The Celtic Churches: a history, AD 200-1200. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1974.
Morris, John. The Age of Arthur: A History of the British Isles from 350 to 650.
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973).
Morse, Ruth. Truth and Convention in the Middle Ages: Rhetoric, Representation, and
Reality. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1991.
Nagy, Joseph Falaky. Conversing with Angels & Ancients: Literary Myths of
Medieval Ireland. Ithaca and London: Cornell UP, 1997.
----------. "Otter, Salmon, and Eel in Traditional Gaelic Narrative." Studia
Celtica 20-21 (1986-1986): 123-44.
Ong, Walter J. Orality and Literacy: the Technologizing of the Word. London:
Otter, Monika. Inventiones: Fiction and Referentiality in Twelfth-Century English
Historical Writing. Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.
Patterson, Lee. Negotiating the Past: The Historical Understanding of Medieval
Literature. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987.
Pennick, Nigel. Celtic Sacred Landscapes. London: Thames & Hudson, 1996.
Picard, Jean-Michel. "The Marvelous in Irish and Continental Saints' Lives of the
Merovingian Period." Columbanus and Merovingian Monasticism. Ed. H. B. Clarke
and Mary Brennan. BAR International Series 113. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports,
----------. "Structural Patterns in Early Hiberno-Latin Hagiography." Peritia 4 (1985): 67-82.
Prebble, John. The Lion in the North: A Personal View of Scotland's History. New
York: Coward, McCann and Geoghegan, Inc., 1971.
Radner, Joan Newlon. "The Significance of the Threefold Death in Celtic
Tradition." Celtic Folklore and Christianity. Ed. Patrick Ford. Santa Barbara:
McNally and Loftin, 1983. 180-99.
Rank, Otto. The Myth and Birth of the Hero. Ed. Philip Freund. New York: Random
House, Vintage Books, 1964.
Ray, Roger. "Historiograpy." Medieval Latin: An Introduction and
Bibliographical Guide. Ed. F. A. C. Mantello and A. G. Rigg. Washington, D. C.:
Catholic Universiy of America Press, 1996. 639-649.
Rees, Alwyn D. "The Divine Hero in Celtic Hagiology." Folklore 47
Rees, Alwyn, and Brinley Rees. Celtic Heritage: Ancient Tradition in Ireland and
Wales. London: Thames and Hudson, 1961.
Richter, Michael. The Formation of the Medieval West: Studies in the Oral Culture of
the Barbarians. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994.
Rigg, A. G. A History of Anglo-Latin Literature: 1066-1422. Cambridge, Cambridge
Roberts, Brynley F. "Geoffrey of Monmouth and Welsh Historical Tradition." Nottingham
Mediaeval Studies 20 (1976): 29-40.
Rollason, D. Saints and Relics in Anglo-Saxon England. Oxford: B. Blackwell,
Ross, Anne. Pagan Celtic Britain: Studies in Iconography and Tradition. London:
Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1967.
Sharpe, Richard. Medieval Irish Saints' Lives: An Introduction to Vitae
Sanctorum Hiberniae. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991.
Simpson, W. D. The Celtic Church in Scotland. Aberdeen University Studies. No.
111. Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1935.
----------. St Ninian and the Origin of the Christian Church in Scotland.
Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1940.
Smith, Julia. "Oral and Written: Saints, Miracles, and Relics in Brittany, c.
850-1250." Speculum 65 (1990): 309-43.
Smyth, Alfred P. Warlords and Holy Men: Scotland AD 80-1000. London: Edward
Southern, R. W. St. Anselm and His Biographer. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1963.
----------. Western Society and the Church in the Middle Ages. Harmondsworth:
Penguin Books, 1970.
Stock, Brian. The Implications of Literacy: Written Language and Models of
Interpretation in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1983.
Straw, Carole. Gregory the Great: Perfection in Imperfection. Berkeley and
London: University of California Press, 1988.
Tatlock, J. S. P. The Legendary History of Britain. Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1950.
Taylor, Archer. "The Biographical Pattern in Traditional Narrative." Journal
of the Folklore Institute 1 (1964): 114-29.
Taylor, Joan and Harold. "Pre-Norman Churches of the Border." Celt and
Saxon: Studies in the Early British Border. Ed. N. K. Chadwick, et al. Cambridge:
Cambridge UP, 1963. 210-57.
Tellenbach, Gerd. The Church in Western Europe from the Tenth to the Early Twelfth
Century. Trans. Timothy Reuter. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996.
Thomas, Charles. Christianity in Roman Britain to A.D. 500. London: Batsford,
Thompson, E. A. "The Origin of Christianity in Scotland." The Scottish
Historical Review 37 (1958): 17-22.
Thompson, Stith. Motif-Index of folk Literature. 6 vols. Bloomington, Indiana:
Indiana UP, 1955-58.
Townsend, David. "Anglo-Latin Hagiography and the Norman Transition." Exemplaria 3 (1991): 385-433.
----------. "Hagiograpy." Medieval Latin: An Introduction and
Bibliographical Guide. Ed. F. A. C. Mantello and A. G. Rigg. Washington, D.C.:
Catholic University of America Press, 1996. 618-628.
Tunberg, Terence O. "Prose Styles and Cursus." Medieval Latin: An
Introduction and Bibliographical Guide. Ed. F. A. C. Mantello and A. G. Rigg.
Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1996. 111-121.
Van Dam, Raymond. Saints and Their Miracles in Late Antique Gaul. Princeton:
Princeton UP, 1993.
Vauchez, André. Sainthood in the Later Middle Ages. Trans. Jean Birrell.
Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997.
Veyne, Paul. "Homosexuality in Ancient Rome." Western Sexuality: Practice
and Precept in Past and Present Times. Ed. Philipppe Ariès and André Béjin. Trans.
Anthony Forster. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985. 26-35.
Vitz, Evelyn Birge. "From the Oral to the Written in Medieval and Renaissance
Saints' Lives." Images of Sainthood in Medieval Europe. Ed. Renate
Blumenfeld-Kosinski and Timea Szell. Ithaca and London: Cornell UP, 1991. 97-114.
Warren, F. E. The Liturgy and Ritual of the Celtic Church. Oxford: Clarendon
Weinstein, Donald and Rudolph Bell. Saints and Society: The Two Worlds of Western
Christendom, 1000-1700. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1982.
Williams, Ann, Alfred P. Smyth and D. P. Kirby. A Biographical Dictionary of Dark
Age Britain: England, Scotland and Wales, c. 500 - c. 1050. London: Seaby, 1991.
Williams, Glanmor. The Welsh Church from Conquest to Reformation. Fayetteville,
Ark.: University of Arkansas Press, 1993.
Williams, J. E. Caerwyn. The Poets of the Welsh Princes. Writers of Wales.
Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1978).
Williams, J. E. Caerwyn and Patrick K. Ford. The Irish Literary Tradition.
Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1992.
Wilson, Stephen. Saints and Their Cults: Studies in Religious Sociology, Folklore
and History. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1983.
Wright, Charles D. The Irish Tradition in Old English Literature. Cambridge:
Cambridge UP, 1993.
Ziolkowski, Jan. "The Nature of Prophecy in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Vita Merlini." Poetry and Prophecy: The Beginnings of a Literary Tradition. Ed. James Lugel.
Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1990. 151-62.
© Cynthia Whiddon Green. Saint Kentigern, Apostle to Strathclyde: A critical
analysis of a northern saint: A Masters Thesis Presented to The Faculty of the
Department of English University of Houston, In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree Master of Arts, December, 1998. The text is here by permission.
Original URL: http://www.gypsyfire.com/Thesis.htm
This text is part of the Internet
Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and
copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.
Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright.
Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational
purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No
permission is granted for commercial use.
Paul Halsall, February 21, 2001