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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity


from its origins to circa AD 700, across the entire Christian world


The Calendar of Willibrord, in its earliest version, records the feasts of various saints in September. Written in Latin at Echternach, Frisia (north-east Gaul), 703/710.

Evidence ID

E05859

Type of Evidence

Liturgical texts - Calendars and martyrologies

Late antique original manuscripts - Parchment codex

Major author/Major anonymous work

The Calendar of Willibrord

The Calendar of Willibrord records in September the feasts of the following saints:

*Sergius
(bishop of Rome, ob. 701 S00897)
*Mary (mother of Christ, S00033)
*Cornelius (bishop and martyr of Rome, S00172)
*Cyprian (bishop and martyr of Carthage, S00411)
*Euphemia (martyr of Chalcedon, S00017)
*Lambert (bishop and martyr of Maastricht, ob. c. 703/5, S02198)
*Cynefrith (perhaps of Northumbria, 7th c., S02170)
*Genuarius (bishop of Benevento and martyr of Naples, S01322)
*Matthew (Apostle and Evangelist, S00791)
*Maurice and the Theban Legion (martyrs of Agaunum, Gaul, S00339)
*John the Baptist (S00020)
*Kosmas/Cosmas and Damianos (brothers and physician martyrs of Syria, S00385)
*Michael (the Archangel, S00181)
*Jerome (Church Father, ob. c. 420, S00267)


Paris, Bibliothéque nationale de France, Lat. 10837, f. 38v

Kalendas septembris
iiii nonas
iii
ii

nonas
viii idus
vii sergii papae rome
vi
v natiuitas sanctae mariae hierosolymis
iiii
iii

ii
idus
xviii kalendas octobris cornili et cypriani
xvii

xvi sanctae euphemiae martyris
xv
sanctae landberichti episcopi . Cynifrid
xiiii
xiii ianuari martyris

xii
xi mathei apostoli
x Passio sancti maurici et sex millium dclxvi
viiii

viii conceptio sancti iohannis babtistae
vii
vi
v cosme et damiani hierosolymis
iiii

iii sancti michaelis archangeli
ii hieronimi presbyteri


'1 September
2
3
4
5
6
7 - Pope Sergius at Rome
8
9 - Nativity of Saint Mary at Jerusalem
10
11
12
13
14 - Cornelius and Cyprian
15

16 - Saint Euphemia, martyr
17 - Saint Lambert, bishop. Cynefrith

18
19 - Genuarius, martyr

20
21 - Matthew the Apostle
22 - Martyrdom of Saint Maurice and 6666 companions
23
24 - Conception of Saint John the Baptist

25
26
27 - Cosmas and Damianus at Jerusalem

28
29 - Saint Michael the Archangel
30 - Jerome, priest'

Text: Wilson 1918, 11 (adapted: Wilson's 'first hand' in roman type, 'second hand' in italics, later annotations omitted).
Translation: B. Savill.

Festivals

Saint’s feast

Source

A liturgical calendar directly associated with Willibrord (archbishop of the Frisians, 695-739; abbot of Echternach, 697/8-739) survives as a contemporary manuscript in Paris, BnF, Lat. 10837, ff. 34v-40, where it immediately follows a version of the Martyrologium Hieronymianum of approximately the same date and provenance. Although it exceeds our database’s cut-off point of AD 700 by some three to ten years, the Calendar of Willibrord is included here since it almost certainly provides a key witness to cultic and liturgical practices in Britain and Ireland at the close of the 7th century – something not afforded by the relatively meagre contemporary Insular evidence.

Willibrord was born in Deira, Northumbria (northern Britain) in 657/8, and given as an oblate to the monastery of Ripon in 664. He left Britain for Ireland in 678, possibly under compulsion after the sudden fall from power that same year of his abbot and mentor, Bishop Wilfrid. He lived at the Irish monastery of Rath Melsigi until 690, before travelling to north-east Francia and embarking on his missionary career as 'apostle of the Frisians'. Pope Sergius I ordained Willibrord as archbishop in Rome in 695, and although he appears to have based his see at Utrecht, most sources suggest that his new monastic foundation at Echternach (near the modern-day Germany-Luxembourg border) served as his main ecclesiastical centre.

Echternach’s early scriptorium almost certainly produced the
Calendar. A lunar cycle for the years 703-21 appended to the text indicates the widest possible time frame for its original composition, and moreover suggests a date within that cycle’s first few years. Meanwhile, the absence of any entry for Willbrord’s mentor Bishop Wilfrid (ob. 24 April, 710), whom we know was cultivated as a saint almost immediately after his death, strongly suggests against any date later than 710. The Calendar includes no identifiable saints later than Pope Sergius I (ob. 701) and Lambert, bishop of Maastricht and patron saint of Liège (ob. c. 701/5). On palaeographical grounds, we can date the so-called 'first' and 'second' Insular uncial hands of the Calendar, plus two entries in Frankish uncial, to the early 8th century, and we have treated these here as comprising the effectively 'original' form of the Calendar. The manuscript does, however, also include numerous later interpolations and annotations (including an autobiographical entry by Willibrord himself, from 728), which belong to various hands from across the 8th and 9th centuries, and cannot always be dated precisely (Hen 1995). We have, therefore, not included these later entries in our database.


Discussion

Sergius (Sep. 7): a figure of personal significance to the Echternach community, since he had consecrated Willibrord as archbishop of the Frisians. As Willibrord's later 'autobiographical' annotation of 728 to the margin of November (f. 39v) in the Calendar relates: 'In the name of the Lord, Clemens Willibrord came across the sea to Francia in the six hundred and ninetieth year from the Incarnation of Christ, and in God's name in the six hundred and ninety-fifth year from the Incarnation of the Lord, although unworthy, he was ordained bishop in Rome by the apostolic man, the lord Pope Sergius.'

Lambert (Sep. 15): the year of his death is unrecorded and has been a subject of debate, but is now usually considered to have occured no later than 705. This entry may, therefore, be the earliest surviving record of his status as a saint.

Cynefrith (Sep. 15): Wilson states that Cynefrith's entry 'probably marks the obit of a contemporary' rather than a saint's feast. But we simply know too little about pre-700 Insular and missionary cult to distinguish confidently between those the
Calendar's compilers considered 'saints' and other notable dead. We know of two 7th century English men with this name: a doctor (medicus) who had attended Æthelthryth of Ely (S02083) at her deathbed and had been alive at least as late as her translation in 695 (Bede, Ecclesiastical History, 4.19); and Abbot Cynefrith of Gelling (north-east Britain), the brother of the more famous Ceolfrith (later abbot of Wearmouth-Jarrow, d. 716), who eventually renounced his abbacy 'to learn the Scriptures' in Ireland, before succumbing to the plague, probably that of 661 (Anonymous Life of Ceolfrith, 2-3). The latter Cynefrith would be remembered as a model abbot by the Wearmouth-Jarrow community as late as 716/17 (ibid., 21); in the meantime, his community at Gelling had moved after his death to the monastery of Ripon (ibid., 3), the same house where Willibrord had received his monastic formation from 664 to 678, before he himself went to Ireland. Thus it seems quite plausible that it is Cynefrith of Gelling (ob. c. 661) who is commemorated here. Nevertheless, the name may not have been uncommon, and a definite identification is impossible.

See Wilson, 1918, 38-40, for a full commentary.


Bibliography

Edition:
The Calendar of St. Willibrord from Paris Lat. 10837: A Facsimile, with Transcription, Introduction and Notes, ed. H.A. Wilson (London, 1918).

Further reading:
Costambeys, M., "Willibrord [St Willibrord] (657/8-739)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004), https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/29576

Hen, Y.,
Culture and Religion in Merovingian Gaul, AD 481-751 (Leiden, 1995), 102-6.

McKitterick, R., "Frankish Uncial: A New Context for the Work of the Echternach Scriptorium," in: A. Weiler and P. Bange (eds.),
Willibrord zijn wereld en zijn werk (Nijmegen, 1990), 374-88; repr. in R. McKitterick, Books, Scribes and Learning in the Frankish Kingdoms, 6th-9th Centuries (Aldershot, 1994), part V.

Netzer, N., "The Early Scriptorium at Echternach: The State of the Question," in: G. Kiesel and J. Schroeder (eds.),
Willibrord. Apostel der Niederande, Gründer der Abtei Echternach (Luxembourg, 1990), 127-34.

Images



Paris, BnF, Lat. 10837, f. 38v (source: gallica.bnf.fr)
























Record Created By

Benjamin Savill

Date Last Modified

30/06/2019

Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00017Euphemia, martyr of ChalcedonEuphemiaCertain
S00020John the BaptistIohannes BabtistaCertain
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristMariaCertain
S00172Cornelius, bishop and martyr of Rome, and companion martyrsCornilusCertain
S00181Michael, the ArchangelMichaelCertain
S00267Jerome, Church Father, ob. c. 420HieronimusCertain
S00339Theban Legion, commanded by Maurice, martyrs of Agaunum, GaulMaurici et sex millium dclxviCertain
S00385Kosmas and Damianos, brothers, physician martyrs of SyriaCosmas et DamianusCertain
S00411Cyprian, bishop and martyr of CarthageCyprianusCertain
S00791Matthew, Apostle and EvangelistMatheusCertain
S00897Sergius, bishop of Rome, ob. 701SergiusCertain
S01322Genuarius/Ianuarius, bishop of Benevento and martyr of NaplesIanuarusCertain
S02170Lesser known English saints in the Calendar of Willibrord, perhaps of Northumbria, 7th c. CynifridCertain
S02198Lambert, bishop and martyr of Maastricht, ob. c. 701/5LandberichtusCertain


Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
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