Vitae sanctorum Hiberniae

  • Irish hagiography
The three principal collections of Irish saints’ lives written in Latin: (1) the so-called (Codex) Salmanticensis (or Salamanca) collection, (2) the (Codex) Insulensis or Oxford collection, and (3) the (Codex) Kilkenniensis or Dublin collection. Since Plummer published his edition in 1910, the Latin designation Vitae sanctorum Hiberniae is sometimes used to refer to these collectively.
multiple versions
[S] The (Codex) Salmanticensis collection, edited by W. W. Heist (1965)
[O] The (Codex) Insulensis collection or as Richard Sharpe has called it, the Oxford collection. The Latin name is a borrowing from John Colgan, who variously referred to one of the manuscripts he used as Codex Insulensis or Codex Insulae Sanctorum.
R2 (Plummer) =
An early copy of the former, with the order of the Lives rearranged to follow the order of the calendar, from St Patrick onwards.
[D] The (Codex) Kilkenniensis or (Codex Ardmachanus) collection, otherwise referred to by Richard Sharpe as the Dublin collection:
T (Plummer) =
Associated items
Vita quarta sanctae BrigitaeVita quarta sanctae Brigitae
A recension of a Latin life of St Brigit of Kildare which survives only in two Franciscan editions of the 17th century. The editors are John Colgan, who attributed the work to one Animosus (whose name he thought to be a Latin counterpart to the Irish name Anmchad), and Hugh Ward, who attributed it to Ultán of Ardbraccan. Richard Sharpe has argued that it was part of the so-called Dublin collection of Irish saints’ lives. BHL 1460.
Vita sancti Abbani (abbatis de Magh Arnaide)Vita sancti Abbani (abbatis de Magh Arnaide)Latin Life of St Abbán of Mag Arnaide (Moyarney, now Adamstown in Co. Wexford)Vita sancti AlbeiVita sancti AlbeiLatin life of St Ailbe of Emly.
Vita sancti BrendaniVita sancti Brendani

Latin Life of St Brénainn, abbot of Clonfert, of which there are five main recensions.

Vita sancti Ciarani CluanensisVita sancti Ciarani CluanensisVita sancti Tigernachi episcopi in Cluain EoisVita sancti Tigernachi episcopi in Cluain EoisLatin Life of St Tigernach of Clones.


Irish hagiographyIrish hagiography

Irish hagiographyIrish hagiography


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.
[ed.] De Smedt, Charles, and Joseph De Backer, Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae ex codice Salmanticensi, Edinburgh and London, 1888.
Münchener DigitalisierungsZentrum – scanned copy: <link>
[ed.] Plummer, Charles, Vitae sanctorum Hiberniae, partim hactenus ineditae, 2 vols, vol. 1, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910.
Internet Archive: <link>
[ed.] Plummer, Charles, Vitae sanctorum Hiberniae, partim hactenus ineditae, 2 vols, vol. 2, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910.
Internet Archive: <link>, <link> Internet Archive – originally from Google Books: <link>

Secondary sources (select)

Sharpe, Richard, Medieval Irish saints’ lives: an introduction to Vitae sanctorum Hiberniae, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991.
Plummer, Charles, Vitae sanctorum Hiberniae, partim hactenus ineditae, 2 vols, vol. 1, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910.
Internet Archive: <link>
Ó Riain, Pádraig [ed.], Beatha Bharra: Saint Finnbarr of Cork: The complete Life, Irish Texts Society, 57, London: Irish Texts Society, 1994.
C. A., Dennis Groenewegen
Page created
April 2014, last updated: January 2024