Vita Sancti Severini

Codex 1064 - Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)

Facsimile edition
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Extent / Format

40 pages / 22.1 x 15.4 cm

12th century

Short description

This biography of St. Severin, written in the year 511, records the life and work of the missionary in the region of the Upper Danube. More significantly, it is a priceless historical source, one of the only to survive from the tumultuous period of the Migration Period, specifically covering the period from the death of Attila (453) to the death of Severin (482). As such, this manuscript represents the sole historical source on many events from one of the most chaotic periods of European history.

Facsimile editions available


Vita Sancti Severini

The biography of St. Severin of Noricum (ca. 410-82) is originally dated to 511 and was written by Eugippius (ca. 465 – ca. 533). As is typical, the story relates the life and miracles of the saint, who was a missionary in the region of the Upper Danube (modern Bavaria and Austria). The text represents one of the most a valuable contemporary sources, despite the problematic hagiographic literature, on conditions in central Europe during the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages. This is the only written tradition on many subjects because sources from the post-Attila Migration Period are extremely rare. It specifically covers the period from the death of Attila (453) to the death of Severin (482). The author Eugippius was the third abbot of the monastery and Order of Favianis founded by Severin near Krems in Lower Austria, which had to be relocated to Italy in 488, specifically Castellum Lucullanum near Naples, where the saint’s vita was written. The reason for this was that the situation of the Danube frontier had become untenable, and as such King Odoacer (ca. 433-493) ordered all Roman citizens to return to the relative safety of Italy. As the sole witness to many of the events of this period, one of the most tumultuous in history, this is a priceless historical source.

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