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The Frankish Church$
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J. M. Wallace-Hadrill

Print publication date: 1983

Print ISBN-13: 9780198269069

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198269064.001.0001

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The Merovingian Saints

The Merovingian Saints

(p.75) V The Merovingian Saints
The Frankish Church

J. M. Wallace‐Hadrill

Oxford University Press

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

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

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