The bishop and the monk: Desiderius of Vienne and the Columbanian movement

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This paper analyses the uses made by hagiographers and chroniclers of the character of Desiderius of Vienne. Desiderius, a bishop in Merovingian Burgundy, was the protagonist of two seventh-century Lives, and appears in numerous other hagiographical works and chronicles. Desiderius also figures prominently in works composed within the context of Columbanian monasticism, most notably Jonas of Bobbio's Vita Columbani. His appearance in these works paints a multifaceted picture not only of his own political activities, but also of the agendas of the hagiographers themselves, who exploited his literary image to further their ends. It is the contention of this paper that despite the frequent mentions of Desiderius in Columbanian compositions, he did not, in fact, play a part in the Columbanians' success.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-194
Number of pages19
JournalEarly Medieval Europe
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


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