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Sermon for the Feast of St Augustine, in a Collection of Saints' Lives

Sermon for the Feast 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.86r

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.

St Augustine was the 'Apostle of the Anglo-Saxons', the first archbishop of the English sent in the late 6th century by Pope Gregory the Great to convert them. After Goscelin's two-part 'Life of Augustine', the manuscript has a sermon for the saint's feast day (then 26 May, now 27 May). St Augustine's day would have been celebrated at the abbey of his monastery at Canterbury with special prayer services, at which excerpts from his 'Life' would have been read as well as this sermon. Augustine's relics were enshrined in the monastic abbey not in the cathedral.

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