Book Series Durham Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Translations, vol. 5

Patron Saints of Early Medieval Italy AD c.350–800

History and Hagiography in Ten Biographies

Nicholas Everett

  • Pages: 276 p.
  • Size:150 x 230 mm
  • Illustrations:1 b/w
  • Language(s):Old English
  • Publication Year:2017

  • ISBN: 978-0-88844-565-0
  • Paperback
  • Available


« (…) cet ouvrage non seulement permet de lire, de façon désormais contextualisée, des sources difficiles d’accès et quasi inconnues en-dehors des spécialistes de l’hagiographie italienne, mais aussi fournit une très abondante bibliographie; il donne surtout de solides exemples de méthode critique en ce qui concerne la datation des textes et l’interprétation de leurs enjeux; pour ces raisons, il sera extrêmement utile tant aux chercheurs utilisant des sources hagiographiques qu’à tous les historiens de l’Italie tardo-antique et alto-médiévale ». ( Thomas Granier, dans Francia-Recensio, 1, 2018)

“Everett is exactly the right person to have undertaken this project, having already established some of the texts (…) and having a deeper understanding of the Lombard protagonists than most of us, and the result is an attractively produced edition, with a valuable map at the start and the Ravenna mosaic of St Apollinaris adorning the cover.” (Roger Wright, in Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 69, 2018, p. 386)

“Un’ampia bibliografia, pp. 226-255, e un Index scelto di nomi e cose notevoli, concludono un libro di cui sono apprezzabili la leggibilità, l’ampiezza e profondità di informazioni, e l’utilità di mettere a disposizione del largo pubblico degli studiosi anglofoni questi testi medievali italiani.” (Paolo Golinelli, in Studi Medievali, LX/II, 2019, p. 990)


This book provides the first translation into English of the Latin biographies of nine holy men and one archangel who became the patron saints of the areas where they evangelized, documenting the conversion of pagan Roman Italy to Christianity at the dawn of the Middle Ages. These Lives or Passions recorded for early medieval audiences the difficulties their local patron saints encountered in promoting the new religion, and their sufferings at the hands of resistant pagans and Roman authorities – ordeals that qualified these saints as special protectors or guardians over their cities or regions. Full of tales of courage, torture, assistant angels, mischievous devils, dragons, and monsters, these earliest Lives also served as literary and devotional touchstones for later elaborations, medieval and modern, on the saints’ lives, careers, and cults. With a comprehensive introduction and historical commentary to each biography, this volume provides new evidence for understanding the transition from the ancient Roman world to the Middle Ages. In assessing the technical problems relating to the origin and date of composition of each text, the book also contributes to redeeming these valuable but neglected sources for the history of medieval Italy. It also discusses the historical and literary significance of these biographies within the contexts of hagiography as a literary genre and early medieval religious life.