Vita sanctae Brigidae ‘The life of St Brigit’

Lawrence of Durham
  • Latin
  • prose

Latin Life of St Brigit, written by Lawrence, traditionally thought to be the monk of that name at Durham cathedral priory. The work was presented to Ailred of Rievaulx when the latter served at the court of David I, king of Scotland. BHL 1461.

Vita sanctae Brigidae
‘The life of St Brigit’
It is the fifth Life (Quinta vita) of St Brigit printed by Colgan.
First words (prose)
  • Licet inexplicabili quodam laberintho ... Fructificante in diversis ubique terrarum nationibus
Lawrence of Durham
Lawrence of Durham
(c. 1110–1154)
English monk of Durham priory, who went on to become sub-prior and later prior. He was also an author, hagiographer and poet and his prose writings include a Latin Life of St Brigit, which he sent to Ailred of Rievaulx.

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The work is traditionally attributed to Lawrence, a monk of Durham who later went on to become prior. See, however, Münster-Swendsen (2014) for the view that another Lawrence, also of Durham and a contemporary, may have been responsible for the Vita.
  • Latin
  • The work is thought to have been written at a time when its dedicatee, Ailred of Rievaulx, served at the court of David I, king of Scotland, sometime between 1130 and 1134.
Origin: Durham priory
Durham (cathedral) priory
Priory associated with Durham cathedral.

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ass. with Ailred of Rievaulx
Ailred of Rievaulx
No short description available

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prose (primary)



Brigit of Kildare
Brigit of Kildare
(c. 439/452–c. 524/526)
patron saint of Kildare, whose cult spread both within and outside of Ireland.

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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.] Heist, W. W. [ed.], Vitae sanctorum Hiberniae: ex codice olim Salmanticensi, nunc Bruxellensi. Lives of the saints of Ireland, from the Salamanca manuscript now of Brussels, Subsidia Hagiographica, 28, Brussels: Société des Bollandistes, 1965.
1–37 Version from the Brussels MS, which is defective at the beginning.
[ed.] Hoste, A., “A survey of the unedited work of Laurence of Durham with an edition of his letter to Aelred of Rievaulx”, Sacris Erudiri 11 (1960): 249–265.
Internet Archive: <link>
An edition of the prefatory letter to Ailred.
[ed.] De Smedt, Charles, and Joseph De Backer, Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae ex codice Salmanticensi, Edinburgh and London, 1888.
Münchener DigitalisierungsZentrum – scanned copy: <link>
cols 1–76 MS S.
[ed.] Colgan, John, Triadis Thaumaturgæ seu divorum Patricii, Columbæ et Brigidæ, trium veteris et maioris Scotiæ, seu Hiberniæ sanctorum insulae communium patronorum acta, Louvain: apud Cornelium Coenestenium, 1647.  
comments: The title page reads in full (normalised spellng): Triadis Thaumaturgæ, seu divorum Patricii, Columbæ, et Brigidæ, trium veteris et majoris Scotiæ, seu Hiberniæ, Sanctorum insulæ, communium patronorum acta, a variis, iisque pervetustis ac Sanctis, authoribus Scripta, ac studio R.P.F. Joannis Colgani, in conventu F.F. Minor. Hibernor, Stritior, Observ., Lovanii, S. Theologiæ Lectoris Jubilati, ex variis bibliothecis collecta, scholiis et commentariis illustrata, et pluribus appendicibus aucta; complectitur tomus secundus sacrarum ejusdem insulæ antiquitatum, nunc primum in lucem prodiens.
Digital.onb.ac.at: <link> Google Books: <link>, <link>
567–582 [‘Quinta vita S. Brigidae: authore. (I) Laurentio Dunelmensi, ex MS Salmanticensi’] MS S.
Translation wanted

Secondary sources (select)

Münster-Swendsen, Mia, “An intricate web of friends: unravelling the networks and personal connections of the two Lawrences of Durham”, in: Lars Bisgaard, Sigga Engsbro, Kurt Villads Jensen, and Tore S. Nyberg (eds), Monastic culture, the long thirteenth century: essays in honour of Brian Patrick McGuire, Odense: University Press of Southern Denmark, 2014. 33–56.
Kenney, James F., “Chapter IV: The monastic churches, their founders and traditions: I. The primitive foundations”, 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. 288–371.
362 [id. 151.4.]
Société des Bollandistes, Bibliotheca hagiographica latina antiquae et mediae aetatis, 2 vols, Subsidia Hagiographica, 6, Brussels: Société des Bollandistes, 1898–1901.
Gallica – vol. 1 (A-I): <link> Gallica – vol. 2 (K-Z): <link> Internet Archive – vol. 2 (K-Z): <link>
Vol. 1, 218 Brief notice.
Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
December 2021, last updated: September 2023