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Exeter Relic-List, Added To St. Aldhelm's 'In Praise Of Virginity'

Exeter Relic-List, Added To St. Aldhelm's 'In Praise Of Virginity'

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1100

Shelfmark: Royal MS 6 B.vii

Item number: f.54v

Length: 30.1

Width: 20.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

St. Aldhelm (c.639-709), abbot of Malmesbury and bishop of Sherborne, has been described as 'the first Englishman who cultivated classical learning with any success'. He led a particularly austere life: it is recorded that when he was abbot he used to recite the entire Psalter standing up to his neck in ice-cold water. His main surviving work is 'In Praise Of Virginity', which he dedicated to the abbess and nuns of Barking. This manuscript of the text was at Exeter Cathedral by the early 12th-century, when a list of the cathedral's relics was added at the end. Despite some erasures and brown smudges, it is clear that the text originally read: 'These are the names of the holy saints, which are in the monastery of St. Peter and St. Mary, Exeter . . .'; the list begins with relics of Christ's blood, his cross, tomb, and clothing; further down the list are a part of St. Peter's beard, St. Andrew's walking-stick, and so on.

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