The Saints' Lives of Jocelin of Furness

September 2010
1 line illustrations
342 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781903153338
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
York Medieval Press

The Saints' Lives of Jocelin of Furness

Hagiography, Patronage and Ecclesiastical Politics

Helen Birkett

First comprehensive study of four important medieval saints' lives, setting them in their political and ecclesiastical context.
Jocelin of Furness (fl.1175x1214), the Cistercian hagiographer, composed four substantial and significant saints' lives; varying widely in both subject and patron, they offer a rich corpus of medieval hagiographical writing. Jocelin's Vita S. Patricii and Vita S. Kentegerni provide updated versions of each saint's legend and are carefully adapted to reflect the interests of their respective patrons in Ireland and Scotland. The Vita S. Helenae was probably commissioned by a female community in England; it represents an idealized narrative mirror of its early thirteenth-century context. In contrast, the Vita S. Waldevi was written to promote the formal canonization of a new saint, Waltheof (d.1159), abbot of the Cistercian house of Melrose in the Scottish borders.
This is the first full-length study of the Lives. It combines detailed analyses of the composition of the texts with study of their patronage, audiences, and contemporary contexts; and it provides new insights into Jocelin's works and the writing of hagiography in the period.

Dr Helen Birkett is Lecturer in Medieval History, University of Exeter.

An e-book version of this title is available (9781846158964), to libraries through a number of trusted suppliers. See here for a full list of our partners.

Table of Contents

Expanding the Narrative: The Composition of the Vita S. Patricii
Compiling Female Sanctity: The Sources for the Vita S. Helenae
Restoring the Text: Jocelin's Approach to the Vita S. Kentegerni
From the Testimony of Trustworthy Men: The Interaction of Oral and Written Sources in the Vita S. Waldevi
Irish Ecclesiastical Politics and Anglo-Norman Sponsorship: The Patronage of the Vita S. Patricii
Scottish Independence and Ecclesiastical Reform: The Vita S. Kentegerni in Context
Promoting Sanctity: The Vita S. Waldevi, Canonization and Cistercian Saintly Cults
Locating the Text: The Patrons, Sources and Historical Context of the Vita S. Helenae
Exemplary Narratives: Contemporary Reforming Discourses in Jocelin's Vitae


This very valuable study should prove useful to a broad range of scholars. CAMBRIAN MEDIEVAL CELTIC STUDIES

Add significant depth to our knowledge of textual production during a transformative time for English monastic houses. . This is a most thorough study of a neglected English writer. SPECULUM

The author should be congratulated for making these four texts available in an up-to-date study. The result is as much an in-depth study of one hagiographer's oeuvre as it is an exploration of hagiography as a political-literary genre. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW

A highly impressive work of scholarship which merits congratulations. NORTHERN HISTORY

Birkett's excellent volume, rich in detail and with comprehensive footnotes, presents a wholly convincing reason for re-evaluating Jocelin and his works. CATHOLIC HISTORICAL REVIEW

This book is persuasively argued, well planned and extensively footnoted and is very impressive. CWAAS NEWSLETTER (Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society)