Book Series Studies and Texts, vol. 134

The Old Norse-Icelandic Legend of Saint Barbara

Kirsten Wolf (ed)

  • Pages: 198 p.
  • Size:175 x 260 mm
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2000

  • ISBN: 978-0-88844-134-8
  • Hardback
  • Available


Saint Barbara was one of the quattuor virgines capitales, was the patroness of miners, architects, stonemasons, gravediggers, firework makers and artillerymen (as well as of fortifications and magazines), and a protectress against lightning, fire, sudden death, and impenitence. The historical circumstances of her life and martyrdom have not been verified. This, however, has not prevented the legend that grew up around her from becoming exceedingly popular.
This volume presents an edition (diplomatic and normalized) of the Old Norse-Icelandic legend of Saint Barbara extant in Stockholm, Kungliga Biblioteket Perg. 2 fol. from ca. 1425-1445 and also in Copenhagen, Det arnamagnæanske Institut AM 429 12mo from ca. 1500. The introduction examines the origin and development of the Greek, Syriac and Latin versions of the legend as well as vernacular translations and adaptations of the Latin versions of the legend and their reception by artists. Particular attention is given to Scandinavia and Icelandic adaptations of the legend and evidence of the saint's cult in Northern Europe.
The analysis of the Old Norse-Icelandic rendering of the legend reveals that it is a close translation of a Latin version of the story represented by a manuscript in the Bibliothèque Municipale in Douai, codex 838, the text of which is edited in an appendix to this study.