Early medieval hagiographical texts abound with vivid descriptions of acts of communication. Such descriptions in the hagiography written in the diocese of Auxerre during the Merovingian period are studied here in an attempt to establish the status of the written word vis-à-vis other means of communication, such as the spoken word or rituals. For this purpose the dating of each source is reconsidered. The texts were written within the clerical community of Auxerre and most relate in some way to Germanus, the most renowned bishop of Auxerre (first half of the fifth century). Although the Vita Germani by Constantius was not written in Auxerre nor for an Auxerrois audience, it is included in the analysis, since it has exerted a profound influence on the later hagiographical narratives produced in the diocese. This study demonstrates that the authors of these texts were very much aware of the limitations of the written word as well as of the advantages and importance of non-written communication.
"The rang of previously unstudied sources consulted is excellent and van Egmond's presentation effectively highlights the way in which a succession of writers from a single historical centre continuously reworked local tradition and memory." (M. J. dal Santo in Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 58/4, October 2007, p. 734-735)
"The chief value of this study rests on the detailed scrutiny van Egmond accorded to each of the documents, many of which have escaped the attention of modern scholarship." (J. J. Contreni, in: The Medieval Review, 08.05.15)