Liber de virtutibus sancti Columbae‘Book on the miracles of St Columba’
The Life of St Columba by Cumméne Find (d. 669), seventh abbot of Iona, is generally considered to be the first known biography of the saint. It does not survive as such, but a brief fragment of a Life attributed to him occurs uniquely in the earliest extant copy of Adomnán’s Life of the saint (Book III). This is in the Schaffhausen manuscript (8th century), where the extract is written in smaller script and bears an ascription to “Cumméne Find (Cummeneus Albus), in the book that he wrote on the miracles of St Columba (liber de uirtutibus sancti Columbae).” That the script used sets it apart from the main text may be because it was a scribal interpolation, i.e. in the Schaffhausen manuscript or an intermediate exemplar, although it is not always ruled out that the quotation and its attribution were already a feature of Adomnán’s autograph text.
In addition to its fragmentary, limited survival, Cumméne’s Life may have been influential in a less direct manner. Whatever the immediate source of the extract, Cumméne’s work is often thought to have been an important source for the Life of Columba by Adomnán, ninth abbot of Iona.(1)n. 1 E.g. Máire Herbert, Iona, Kells, and Derry: the history and hagiography of the monastic familia of Columba (1988).
Cumméne AilbeCumméne Ailbe (ob. 669) Cumméne Albus, Cumméne Find Al. Cumméne Find, seventh abbot of Iona; author of Liber de virtutibus sancti Columbae. See more
abbot of Iona between 657 and 669. Máire Herbert has argued that Cumméne wrote the work in close association with his uncle Ségéne during the latter’s abbacy at Iona (623-652).
Colum CilleColum Cille (fl. 6th century) Columba founder and abbot of Iona, Kells (Cenandas) and Derry (Daire). See more Áedán mac GabráinÁedán mac Gabráin (r. 574–609) king of Dál Riata (r. c.574–609) See more
[ed.] [tr.] Anderson, A. O. [ed.], and M. O. Anderson [ed., rev.], Adomnan’s Life of Columba, revised ed., Oxford Medieval Texts, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.
474–476 A facsimile of the relevant page in the Schaffhausen MS is included.
Secondary sources (select)
Sharpe, Richard [tr.], Adomnán of Iona: Life of St. Columba, London, et al.: Penguin Books, 1995.
Herbert, Máire, Iona, Kells, and Derry: the history and hagiography of the monastic familia of Columba, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988.
Anderson, A. O. [ed.], and M. O. Anderson [ed., rev.], Adomnan’s Life of Columba, revised ed., Oxford Medieval Texts, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.
Kenney, James F., “Chapter V: The monastic churches: II. The churches of the sixth to ninth centuries; general treatises”, in: James F. Kenney, The sources for the early history of Ireland: an introduction and guide. Volume 1: ecclesiastical, Revised ed., 11, New York: Octagon, 1966. 372–485.
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