Texts

Vita sancti Fursei‘The Life of St Fursa’

  • Latin
  • Irish hagiography
Life of the Irish missionary St Fursa (d. c. 649). BHL 3209.
Initial words (prose)
  • Fuit vir vitae venerabilis
Manuscripts

There are numerous manuscript witnesses. No clear stemma has been reconstructed from them, but in an attempt to distinguish some lines of transmission, Krusch has divided the witnesses into classes A, B, C and D, with further subdivisions. He also noted the occasional cross-fertilisation where he could spot it (not fully represented below). The Vita can appear as a standalone text, or in company with either the Virtutes or the Life of his brother Foillán, Additamentum Nivialense de Fuilano. This list is not yet comprehensive:

Class A
  • London, British Library, MS Harley 5041 ff. 79r-100v [s. viii2/4 / s. viii3/4]
    ff. 79–98v
    A1 (Krusch). 8th century.
  • Wormsley Park, Getty Library, MS BM4149
    ff. 55–62
    A1* (Krusch). Followed by a version of the Virtutes (ff. 62v-66v) which Krusch has assigned to class C and numbered C2b.
  • Rome, Biblioteca Casanatense, MS 641 2, ff. 82-189 [s. ixex / s. xin]
    ff. 97–104
    A2 (Krusch). Olim B IV 18.
  • Rouen, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 1381
    ff. 133–139
    A3 (Krusch).
  • Montpellier, École de Médecine, MS H 22
    ff. 119v–123v
    A3a (Krusch).
  • Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 5341
    ff. 71–74
    A3b (Krusch).
  • Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 5319
    ff. 119–124
    A3c (Krusch).
  • Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 3788
    ff. 78–82
    A4 (Krusch).
Class B
  • Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, MS 7984
    ff. 24–33
    B1a (Krusch).
  • Karlsruhe, Badische Landesbibliothek, Aug. perg. 32
    ff. 68r–68v
    B1b (Krusch).
  • Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 9741
    pp. 223–232
    B1c (Krusch).
  • London, British Library, MS Cotton Nero E i vol. 1, ff. 3-208 [s. xi2 / s. xii2/4]
    ff. 93r–97v context: Cotton Corpus legendary
    B2a1 (Krusch).
  • London, British Library, MS Royal 8 G vi
    ff. 200r–200v
    B2a1* (Krusch).
  • London, British Library, MS Egerton 2797
    ff. 87v–101
    B2a2 (Krusch). Followed by a version of the Virtutes which Krusch has assigned to class C and numbered C4c.
  • Rouen, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 1384
    ff. 135–143
    B2a3 (Krusch).
  • Cambrai, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 864
    ff. 100v–105r
    B2a4 and C4c1 (Krusch). Followed by the Virtutes.
  • Cambrai, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 865 (865 (768)) [s. x/xi]
    ff. 143r–149v
    B2a4* and C4c1* (Krusch). Followed by the Virtutes.
  • Chartres, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 507
    ff. 51–56
    B2b (Krusch).
  • Rouen, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 1400
    ff. 42r–44v
    B2c (Krusch).
  • London, Lambeth Palace Library, MS 173
    ff. 180–190
    B2d (Krusch).
  • London, British Library, MS Royal 5 A vii
    ff. 74–84v
    B2f* (Krusch).
  • London, Lambeth Palace Library, MS 94
    ff. 113–119
    B2f (Krusch).
  • London, British Library, MS Cotton Otho A xiii
    ff. 51–70v
    B2f (Krusch). Badly burnt owing to the 1731 fire.
Class C
  • Cologne, Historisches Archiv der Stadt, MS W 163
    ff. 146–151
    C1a (Krusch).
  • Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 11885
    f. 57v
    C1a* (Krusch).
  • Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 5568
    ff. 145–155
    C1b (Krusch).
  • Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, MS Clm 27128
    ff. 82v–92
    C1b1 (Krusch).
  • Orléans, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 331
    pp. 119–128
    C1c (Krusch).
  • Grenoble, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 1171
    ff. 84v–90
    C1d (Krusch).
  • Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, MS 9119
    ff. 40–43
    C1e (Krusch).
  • Rome, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, MS Sessoriano 40 185r-205v [s. ix]
    ff. 185ra–199rb
    C2a (Krusch). Followed by the Virtutes..
  • C2b (Krusch), Wormsley Park, Getty Library, MS BM4149. See A1*.
  • The Hague, Royal Library, MS 71 H 66
    ff. 23v–66v
    C3 (Krusch). Incl. the Virtutes.
  • Saint-Omer, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 715 vol. 1 [s. xi – s. xii]
    ff. 64v–68v
    C3a (Krusch). Followed by the Virtutes.
  • Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, MS Clm 17137
    ff. 56v–58v
    C3b (Krusch). Followed by the Virtutes (without ch. 1-3) and the Additamentum.
  • Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 17625
    ff. 114r–124v
    C4a (Krusch). Followed by the Virtutes.
  • Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 11749
    ff. 5v–10v
    C4b (Krusch). Followed by the Virtutes
  • Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 11754
    ff. 104–v108
    C4b* (Krusch). Followed by the Virtutes.
  • C4c (Krusch), Virtutes in London, British Library, MS Egerton 2797. See B2a2.
  • C4c1 (Krusch): see B2a4, Cambrai, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 864.
  • C4c1* (Krusch): see B2a4*, Cambrai, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 865.
  • Düsseldorf, Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek, MS C 10a
    ff. 201–208
    C4d1 (Krusch).
  • Bonn, Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek, MS S 369
    ff. 75v–83
    C4d2 (Krusch).
  • Berlin, Staatsbibliothek, MS lat. quart. 122
    f. 60
    C5 (Krusch). Followed by the Virtutes.
  • Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 5604
    ff. 2–34
    C6a (Krusch).
  • London, British Library, MS Harley 2800
    ff. 46–50
    C6b (Krusch).
  • Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, MS 207
    ff. 55–59v
    C6c (Krusch).
Class D
Other
Language
  • Latin
Date
7th century in origin
Associated items
Additamentum Nivialense de FuilanoAdditamentum Nivialense de Fuilano

Latin Life of St Foillán of Fosses, a brother of St Fursa. It was written as a supplement to Vita Fursei. BHL 3211. 

Classification

Irish hagiographyIrish hagiography
...

Subjects

FursaFursa
(fl. 7th century)
Irish monk and missionary
See more

Sources

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.
37–55 Based on Brussels MS 7672-7674 (Codex Salmanticensis).
[ed.] Ciccarese, Maria Pia, “Le visioni di S. Fursa”, Romanobarbarica 8 (1984–1985): 231–303.
The first two visions omitted from the MGH edition.
[add.] [corr.] Krusch, B., “Vita virtutesque Fursei abbatis Latiniacensis et de Fuilano additamentum Nivialense”, in: Krusch, B., and W. Levison (eds.), Passiones vitaeque sanctorum aevi Merovingici (V), MGH Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum 7, Hanover and Leipzig, 1920. 837–842.
Digital MGH: <link>
[ed.] Krusch, B. [ed.], Passiones vitaeque sanctorum aevi Merovingici (II), MGH Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum 4, Hanover, 1902.
Digital MGH: <link>
434–440 (text); 423–434 (introduction) [‘Vita Fursei abbatis Latiniacensis’] Omits the first two visions.
[ed.] De Smedt, Charles, and Joseph De Backer, Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae ex codice Salmanticensi, Edinburgh and London, 1888.
Münchener DigitalisierungsZentrum – scanned copy: <link>
77–112 Earlier edition. direct link
[tr.] Rackham, Oliver [tr.], Transitus Beati Fursei: a translation of an 8th century manuscript Life of St Fursey, Norwich: Fursey Pilgrims, 2007.

Secondary sources (select)

Hamann, Stefanie, “St Fursa, the genealogy of an Irish saint—the historical person and his cult”, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 112 C (2012): 147–187.  
abstract:
The Irish saint Fursa (d. 649) is renowned for his visions of the otherworld, transmitted in a near-contemporary Vita. He also appears in the Irish martyrologies and genealogies, the latter attributing to him a variety of pedigrees on his father's as well as his mother's side. This paper aims to show that by combining evidence from different types of sources; biographies, genealogies (Corpus genealogiarum sanctorum Hiberniae and Corpus genealogiarum Hiberniae), martyrologies (Félire Óengusso, Martyrology of Donegal and Martyrology of Cashel), and several Irish saints' Lives, it is possible to single out the most probable strand of tradition for the saint's origins. As it turns out, Fursa's differing genealogical affiliations mirror the subsequent shifts in political and ecclesiastical developments in Irish medieval history. Viewed from this perspective, the genealogies can supply valuable source material necessary for a biographical approach to a personality of the early Middle Ages.
Hamann, Stefanie, “Die Vita Fursei als chronologische Quelle”, Analecta Bollandiana 122 (2004): 283–298.
Ó Riain, Pádraig, “Les Vies de Saint Fursy: les sources irlandaises”, Revue du Nord 68 (1986): 405–413.
Kenney, James F., “Chapter VI: The expansion of Irish Christianity”, in: Kenney, James F., The sources for the early history of Ireland: an introduction and guide. Volume 1: ecclesiastical, Records of Civilization: Sources and Studies 11, Revised ed. (1929), New York: Octagon, 1966. 486–621.
501–502
Poncelet, Albert, “De magno legendario Austriaco”, Analecta Bollandiana 17 (1898): 24–96, 123–216.
Internet Archive – originally from Google Books: <link>, <link>
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Contributors
C. A., Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
May 2011, last updated: August 2021