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Goscelin's 'Life of St Augustine', in a Collection of Saints' Lives

Goscelin's 'Life of St Augustine', in a Collection of Saints' Lives

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1110

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Vespasian B XX

Item number: f.5v

Length: 24.5

Width: 15

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript

Once belonging to the monastery of St Augustine in Canterbury, this manuscript has a collection of saints' lives, all of them associated with Canterbury. Several of the lives are the work of the biographer Goscelin, a Flemish benedictine monk who came to England with Hermann, Bishop of Salisbury, probably in 1053. He went on the road to gather material from all over the kingdom, writing the lives of the English saints as he travelled, finally settling at Canterbury. This manuscript may have been copied within a decade of his death, at Canterbury, making it an important record of his work and evidence of the cults of saints there.

Goscelin's 'Life of St Augustine' is his most important work, which he wrote in two parts: minor and major. Augustine--not to be confused with the bishop of Hippo--was the Roman monk sent by Pope Gregory the Great at the end of the 6th century to convert the Anglo-Saxons and became England's first archbishop. Following a prologue, this page has the beginning of the account in the minor 'Life' of Augustine's mission to Kent and the Angles. Goscelin says he wrote the 'Lives' so that all the religious communities in England would know of the saint's holiness and miracles. This bit of advertising was published in this collection not too long after the translation of Augustine's relics (1091) into the new abbey church, at which Goscelin was present.

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