Beggars' saint but no beggar: Martin of Tours in Aelfric's 'Lives of Saints'

KE Olsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Although Aelfric's longer Life of St Martin is clearly indebted to Sulpicius Severus's writings, Martin's humility, one of the chief virtues for which the saint is remembered, is downplayed in Lives. Aelfric's Martin also leads a life of self-deprivation, yet without humiliating himself in the same way as his Latin counterpart does. Aelfric silently passes over Martin's shabby appearance and servile behaviour towards men of inferior rank, thus omitting those details that would compromise Martin's status as Bishop of Tours. For Aelfric, the saint's authority as a high ecclesiastical official needed to be left untainted in order to make his role conform with the prestigious position bishops enjoyed in the political and spiritual life of late Anglo-Saxon England.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)461-475
    Number of pages15
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jul-2004

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