Anglo-Saxon Saints' Legends

(2517 words)
  • Rachel Anderson (Grand Valley State University )

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Cults of saints originated in Late Antiquity, when the graves of holy men and women became holy places of veneration and the sites of eventual shrines and churches. Worshippers made pilgrimages to these sites, where the intercession and pity of the once-human saints was thought to be obtained. Texts devoted to relating the lives of these saints developed into a form collectively referred to as “hagiography” (from the Greek hagio – “saint” and –graph “writing”). One early text is the late fourth-century vita (life) of St. Martin of Tours by Sulpicius Severus. This work, which became a prototype for the form, introduces the common theme of the saint’s good deeds and miracles that show his power.

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Anderson, Rachel. "Anglo-Saxon Saints' Legends". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 11 July 2003
[, accessed 29 September 2016.]