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E05859: The Calendar of Willibrord, in its earliest version, records the feasts of various saints in September. Written in Latin at Echternach, Frisia (north-east Gaul), 703/710.

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posted on 2018-06-22, 00:00 authored by bsavill
The Calendar of Willibrord records in September the feasts of the following saints:

*Sergius (bishop of Rome, ob. 701 S00897)
*Mary (mother of Christ, S00033)
*Cornelius (bishop and martyr of Rome, S00172)
*Cyprian (bishop and martyr of Carthage, S00411)
*Euphemia (martyr of Chalcedon, S00017)
*Lambert (bishop and martyr of Maastricht, ob. c. 703/5, S02198)
*Cynefrith (perhaps of Northumbria, 7th c., S02170)
*Genuarius (bishop of Benevento and martyr of Naples, S01322)
*Matthew (Apostle and Evangelist, S00791)
*Maurice and the Theban Legion (martyrs of Agaunum, Gaul, S00339)
*John the Baptist (S00020)
*Kosmas/Cosmas and Damianos (brothers and physician martyrs of Syria, S00385)
*Michael (the Archangel, S00181)
*Jerome (Church Father, ob. c. 420, S00267)

Paris, Bibliothéque nationale de France, Lat. 10837, f. 38v

Kalendas septembris
iiii nonas
viii idus
vii sergii papae rome
v natiuitas sanctae mariae hierosolymis
xviii kalendas octobris cornili et cypriani
xvi sanctae euphemiae martyris
xv sanctae landberichti episcopi . Cynifrid
xiii ianuari martyris
xi mathei apostoli
x Passio sancti maurici et sex millium dclxvi
viii conceptio sancti iohannis babtistae
v cosme et damiani hierosolymis
iii sancti michaelis archangeli
ii hieronimi presbyteri

'1 September
7 - Pope Sergius at Rome
9 - Nativity of Saint Mary at Jerusalem
14 - Cornelius and Cyprian
16 - Saint Euphemia, martyr
17 - Saint Lambert, bishop. Cynefrith
19 - Genuarius, martyr
21 - Matthew the Apostle
22 - Martyrdom of Saint Maurice and 6666 companions
24 - Conception of Saint John the Baptist
27 - Cosmas and Damianus at Jerusalem
29 - Saint Michael the Archangel
30 - Jerome, priest'

Text: Wilson 1918, 11 (adapted: Wilson's 'first hand' in roman type, 'second hand' in italics, later annotations omitted).
Translation: B. Savill.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Sergius, bishop of Rome, ob. 701 : S00897 Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033 Cornelius, bishop and martyr of Rome, and companion martyrs : S00172 Cyprian, bishop and martyr of Carthage : S00411 Euphemia, martyr of Chalcedon : S00017 Lambert, bishop

Saint Name in Source

Sergius Maria Cornilus Cyprianus Euphemia Landberichtus Cynifrid Ianuarus Matheus Maurici et sex millium dclxvi Iohannes Babtista Cosmas et Damianus Michael Hieronimus

Image Caption 1

Paris, BnF, Lat. 10837, f. 38v (source:

Type of Evidence

Liturgical texts - Calendars and martyrologies Late antique original manuscripts - Parchment codex


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Gaul and Frankish kingdoms

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Echternach Tours Tours Toronica urbs Prisciniacensim vicus Pressigny Turonorum civitas Ceratensis vicus Céré

Major author/Major anonymous work

The Calendar of Willibrord

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast


A liturgical calendar directly associated with Willibrord (archbishop of the Frisians, 695-739; abbot of Echternach, 697/8-739) survives as a contemporary manuscript in Paris, BnF, Lat. 10837, ff. 34v-40, where it immediately follows a version of the Martyrologium Hieronymianum of approximately the same date and provenance. Although it exceeds our database’s cut-off point of AD 700 by some three to ten years, the Calendar of Willibrord is included here since it almost certainly provides a key witness to cultic and liturgical practices in Britain and Ireland at the close of the 7th century – something not afforded by the relatively meagre contemporary Insular evidence. Willibrord was born in Deira, Northumbria (northern Britain) in 657/8, and given as an oblate to the monastery of Ripon in 664. He left Britain for Ireland in 678, possibly under compulsion after the sudden fall from power that same year of his abbot and mentor, Bishop Wilfrid. He lived at the Irish monastery of Rath Melsigi until 690, before travelling to north-east Francia and embarking on his missionary career as 'apostle of the Frisians'. Pope Sergius I ordained Willibrord as archbishop in Rome in 695, and although he appears to have based his see at Utrecht, most sources suggest that his new monastic foundation at Echternach (near the modern-day Germany-Luxembourg border) served as his main ecclesiastical centre. Echternach’s early scriptorium almost certainly produced the Calendar. A lunar cycle for the years 703-21 appended to the text indicates the widest possible time frame for its original composition, and moreover suggests a date within that cycle’s first few years. Meanwhile, the absence of any entry for Willbrord’s mentor Bishop Wilfrid (ob. 24 April, 710), whom we know was cultivated as a saint almost immediately after his death, strongly suggests against any date later than 710. The Calendar includes no identifiable saints later than Pope Sergius I (ob. 701) and Lambert, bishop of Maastricht and patron saint of Liège (ob. c. 701/5). On palaeographical grounds, we can date the so-called 'first' and 'second' Insular uncial hands of the Calendar, plus two entries in Frankish uncial, to the early 8th century, and we have treated these here as comprising the effectively 'original' form of the Calendar. The manuscript does, however, also include numerous later interpolations and annotations (including an autobiographical entry by Willibrord himself, from 728), which belong to various hands from across the 8th and 9th centuries, and cannot always be dated precisely (Hen 1995). We have, therefore, not included these later entries in our database.


Sergius (Sep. 7): a figure of personal significance to the Echternach community, since he had consecrated Willibrord as archbishop of the Frisians. As Willibrord's later 'autobiographical' annotation of 728 to the margin of November (f. 39v) in the Calendar relates: 'In the name of the Lord, Clemens Willibrord came across the sea to Francia in the six hundred and ninetieth year from the Incarnation of Christ, and in God's name in the six hundred and ninety-fifth year from the Incarnation of the Lord, although unworthy, he was ordained bishop in Rome by the apostolic man, the lord Pope Sergius.' Lambert (Sep. 15): the year of his death is unrecorded and has been a subject of debate, but is now usually considered to have occured no later than 705. This entry may, therefore, be the earliest surviving record of his status as a saint. Cynefrith (Sep. 15): Wilson states that Cynefrith's entry 'probably marks the obit of a contemporary' rather than a saint's feast. But we simply know too little about pre-700 Insular and missionary cult to distinguish confidently between those the Calendar's compilers considered 'saints' and other notable dead. We know of two 7th century English men with this name: a doctor (medicus) who had attended Æthelthryth of Ely (S02083) at her deathbed and had been alive at least as late as her translation in 695 (Bede, Ecclesiastical History, 4.19); and Abbot Cynefrith of Gelling (north-east Britain), the brother of the more famous Ceolfrith (later abbot of Wearmouth-Jarrow, d. 716), who eventually renounced his abbacy 'to learn the Scriptures' in Ireland, before succumbing to the plague, probably that of 661 (Anonymous Life of Ceolfrith, 2-3). The latter Cynefrith would be remembered as a model abbot by the Wearmouth-Jarrow community as late as 716/17 (ibid., 21); in the meantime, his community at Gelling had moved after his death to the monastery of Ripon (ibid., 3), the same house where Willibrord had received his monastic formation from 664 to 678, before he himself went to Ireland. Thus it seems quite plausible that it is Cynefrith of Gelling (ob. c. 661) who is commemorated here. Nevertheless, the name may not have been uncommon, and a definite identification is impossible. See Wilson, 1918, 38-40, for a full commentary.


Edition: The Calendar of St. Willibrord from Paris Lat. 10837: A Facsimile, with Transcription, Introduction and Notes, ed. H.A. Wilson (London, 1918). Further reading: Costambeys, M., "Willibrord [St Willibrord] (657/8-739)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004), Hen, Y., Culture and Religion in Merovingian Gaul, AD 481-751 (Leiden, 1995), 102-6. McKitterick, R., "Frankish Uncial: A New Context for the Work of the Echternach Scriptorium," in: A. Weiler and P. Bange (eds.), Willibrord zijn wereld en zijn werk (Nijmegen, 1990), 374-88; repr. in R. McKitterick, Books, Scribes and Learning in the Frankish Kingdoms, 6th-9th Centuries (Aldershot, 1994), part V. Netzer, N., "The Early Scriptorium at Echternach: The State of the Question," in: G. Kiesel and J. Schroeder (eds.), Willibrord. Apostel der Niederande, Gründer der Abtei Echternach (Luxembourg, 1990), 127-34.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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