St Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 567

The main item of note in this collection of hagiographical materials is its unique copy of the anonymous life of Pope Gregory the Great which was composed at the English monastery of Whitby between 704 and 714 (pages 75–110). Its contents comprise:

  1. Acta sancti Silvestri pape, ‘The Acts of Pope Silvester’ (pages 1–73) [BHL 7725–7, 7732–3, 7735];
  2. Liber beati et laudabilis viri Gregorii pape urbis Rome de vita atque eius virtutibus, ‘The Book of the Life and Virtues of the Blessed and Laudable Man Gregory, Father of the City of Rome’ (pages 75–110) [BHL 3637];
  3. Venantius Fortunatus, Vita sancti Hilarii episcopi, ‘The Life of St Hilary the Bishop’, and Epistola ad filiam suam Abram, ‘The Letter to his daughter Abra’ (pages 111–133) [BHL 3885, 3887, 3887a];
  4. Conversio vel vita beati Lucii confessoris, ‘The Conversion and Life of the Blessed Confessor Lucius’ (pages 135–152) [BHL 5024];
  5. Vita sancti Lonochilii sacerdotis et sancte Agnoflede uirginis, ‘The Life of St Lonochilus the Priest and of St Agnofleda the Virgin’ (pages 155–163) [BHL 4966];
  6. Sulpicius Severus, Vita sancti Martini, ‘The Life of St Martin’ (pages 164–170) [BHL 5610];
  7. Sulpicius Severus, Vita sancti Martini, ‘The Life of St Martin’ (continued), with his Epistola ad Aureliam, ‘The Letter of St Martin’, and Epistola ad Basulam, ‘The Letter to Basula’, and a description of the Basilica of St Martin (pages 172–199) [continuation of BHL 5610, 5612, 5613, 5624c].

The seven units which make up Cod. Sang. 567 were copied at differing dates over a period of more than a century: the lives of Gregory and Hilary are copied in the Carolingian miniscule script associated with St Gallen and dated to the first quarter of the ninth century; the hand that wrote the Life of Silvester have been dated to the mid or late ninth; those that wrote the sections on Lucius and Lonochilus and Agnofleda to the last quarter of the eighth; and those that wrote the two units concerned with St Martin to the ninth century and to the first half of the eighth century respectively. As this implies, this volume is a collection of booklets that were bound together at a later date. Several were combined before the end of the ninth century, for they are recorded as a single unit in St Gallen’s ninth-century library catalogue. The catalogue entry shows that this version of the book included a Life of St Goar, now removed, but not the Martinian materials that comprise the sixth and seventh sections of the modern book. These were in place by the middle of the fifteenth century when quires were numbered from one to sixteen.

That the book originated as a set of booklets is also indicated by variations in decoration and layout—in the size of the text areas and in how they are ruled. But there is some suggestion that the lives of Gregory and Hilary may comprise a single unit (pp. 75–135). In any case, two scribes wrote the Life of Gregory, the first covering pages 75–106, the second pages 107–110. The first writes twenty-five lines per page, the second twenty-six. The rubrics on the opening page are in half-uncial script, and the initials are in red, but notice that, apart from the rubric following the preface, there are no sub-divisions. What does this say about the function of this book and the booklets out of which it was constituted?


Facsimile: St Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 567.

Text and Translation: B. Colgrave, The Earliest Life of Gregory the Great by an Anonymous Monk of Whitby (Cambridge, 1985), pp. 72–139. PN.DL.G75.

Commentary. For the Manuscript, see ibid., pp. 63–70; S. E. Mosford, ‘A Critical Edition of the Vita Gregorii Magni by an Anonymous Member of the Community at Whitby’ (unpubl. DPhil dissertation, University of Oxford, 1988). pp. lxiii–lxix; A. von Euw, Die St. Galler Buchkunst vom 8. bis zum Ende des 11. Jahrhunderts, 2 vols. (St. Gallen, 2008); G. Scherrer, Verzeichniss der Handschriften der Stiftsbibliothek St. Gallen (Halle, 1875), p. 182.

On the subject of booklets (with reference to the fourth section of St Gallen 567, containing the Vita beati Lucii confessoris), see P. R. Robinson, ‘Self-Contained Units in Composite Manuscripts of the Anglo-Saxon Period’, Anglo-Saxon England, 7 (1978), 231–8 [MVC]; idem, ‘The “Booklet”: A Self-Contained Unit in Composite Manuscripts’, in A. Gruys and J. P. Gumbert (ed.), Codicologica, vol. 3, Essais typologiques (Leiden, 1980), pp. 46–69 [ZNGBM: Ask at Enquiries. Oversize Pamphlet].

< Seminar VII