Paenitentiale Cummeani ‘The penitential of Cummeanus (Cumméne)’

Cummíne Fota
  • Latin
  • prose
  • extent: more or less complete
Seventh-century Irish penitential, written by Cumméne/Cumméne (Lat. Cummeanus) the Long, abbot of Clonfert, who died in 662 according to the Annals of Ulster. The text has a prologue, 202 canons and an epilogue.
Cummíne Fota
Cummíne Fota
(fl. 7th century)
early Irish saint, patron of Clonfert (Clúain Fertae)

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Ascribed to: Cummíne Fota
Cummíne Fota
(fl. 7th century)
early Irish saint, patron of Clonfert (Clúain Fertae)

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Marbug, Hessisches Staatsarchiv, MS Hr 4,7
Fragment, unknown to Bieler, discovered by Bernhard Bischoff and described by Raymund Kottje (2005). It is dated to the 2nd quarter of the 9th century, making it the earliest textual witness. Provenance: Fulda or Mainz.
Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Pal. lat. 485
ff. 101v/102r–107v
Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS 311
Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, MS Clm 12888
p. 285
Prologue. Prefatio Cummeani abbatis in Scothia ortus
St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, MS 550
p. 162
Prologue. Prefacio Cummeani abbatis in Scothia ortus.
Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Vat. lat. 1349
ff. 17v–18r
Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Vat. lat. 5751
ff. 17v–18r
Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, MS L 28 sup
  • Latin
prose (primary)
Textual relationships

Draws on earlier penitential texts, such as the Paenitentiale Vinniani and the Paenitentiale Ambrosianum.

(Possible) sources: Paenitentiale AmbrosianumPaenitentiale AmbrosianumView incoming dataPaenitentiale VinnianiPaenitentiale VinnianiPenitential text written in the 6th century by Finnian, a British cleric in Ireland.
Related: Excarpsus CummeaniExcarpsus CummeaniLatin penitential handbook probably written at Corbie in the eighth century. It was previously held to be the work of a seventh-century Irish author, Cumméne Fota (abbot of Clonfert and Ardfert), until in 1902, Cumméne’s actual Paenitentiale was discovered and it was concluded that the latter was one of the sources to have been used in the composition of the Excarpsus.



Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

[ed.] [tr.] Bieler, Ludwig [ed.], and D. A. Binchy [appendix], The Irish penitentials, Scriptores Latini Hiberniae, 5, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1963.
108–135 (text and translation); 5–7, 13–15, 17–19 (introduction, discussion)
[ed.] Zettinger, Joseph, “Das Poenitentiale Cummeani”, Archiv für katholisches Kirchenrecht 82 (1902): 501–540.
[tr.] McNeill, John T., and Helena M. Gamer, Medieval handbooks of penance; a translation of the principal libri poenitentiales and selections from related documents, Records of Civilization: Sources and Studies, 29, New York: Columbia University Press, 1938.  
comments: Reprinted in 1965 and 1991.
99–117 (translation), 98–99 (introduction)

Secondary sources (select)

Meens, Rob [Meens, R. M. J.], Penance in medieval Europe, 600–1200, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
Farrell, Elaine Pereira, “Taboos and penitence: Christian conversion and popular religion in early medieval Ireland”, 2 vols, unpublished PhD thesis, School of History and Archives, University College Dublin, 2012.  

Vol. 1. Text and bibliography -- Vol. 2. Appendix and tables.

Kottje, Raymund, “Das älteste Zeugnis für das Paenitentiale Cummeani”, Deutsches Archiv für Erforschung des Mittelalters 61 (2005): 585–589.
Vogel, Cyrille, Les Libri paenitentiales, Typologie des sources du moyen Âge occidental, 27, Turnhout: Brepols, 1978.
Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
July 2011, last updated: January 2024