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E06899: Ildefonsus, bishop of Toledo, in his On the Lives of Famous Men, written in Latin in 657/667, tells of *Donatus (abbot of Servitanum, Spain, died after 571, S01223) who both during his lifetime, and after death, was famous for miracle-working, rendering his tomb a place of worship for the local inhabitants.

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posted on 2018-10-16, 00:00 authored by mszada
Ildephonsus of Toledo, De viris illustribus 3

Donatus et professione et opere monachus cuiusdam eremitae fertur in Africa extitisse discipulus. Hic uiolentias barbararum gentium imminere conspiciens atque ouilis dissipationem et gregis monachorum pericula pertimescens, ferme cum septuaginta monachis copiosisque librorum codicibus nauali uehiculo in Hispaniam commeauit. Cui ab inlustri religiosaque femina Minicea subsidiis ac rerum opibus ministratis, Seruitanum monasterium uisus est construxisse. Iste prior in Hispaniam monasticae obseruantiae usum regulamque dicitur aduexisse. Tam uiuens uirtutum exemplis nobilis quam defunctus memoriae claritate sublimis. Hic et in praesenti luce subsistens et in cripta sepulchri quiescens, signis quibusdam proditur effulgere salutis, unde et monumentum eius honorabiliter colere perhibentur incolae regionis.

'Donatus, a monk both in his profession and his deeds, is said to have been a disciple of a hermit in Africa. On seeing the threat of violence from barbarian peoples and fearing his sheep would be scattered and the dangers to his flock of monks, he crossed the sea to Spain with around seventy monks and a great collection of books. He was given food and aid by a noble and devout woman, Minicea, and appears to have built the monastery of Servitanum. He is said to have been the first man to have brought a rule for monastic observance to Spain. He was as distinguished in life by his virtuous example as he was exulted in death through the glory of his memory. Both while living in this world and now at rest in the grave, his glory is said to have shone forth through certain miraculous acts of healing and because of this the inhabitants of the region are said to give honour to his tomb.'

Text: Codoñer 2007, 605–606. Translation: Fear 1997, 111–112.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Donatus, abbot of Servitianum (Iberian Peninsula), died after 571 : S01223

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Other


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Iberian Peninsula

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Toledo Osset Osset Osen (castrum) Osser castrum

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - crypt/ crypt with relics

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Miracle after death

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits


Ildefonsus was abbot of the important monastery of Agali and later bishop of Toledo. Here he succeeded his uncle, Eugenius II, in 657 and was bishop until his death in 667. He was then succeeded by Quiricius. Julian, bishop of Toledo in 680-690 and also a former abbot of Agali, wrote an Elogium in honour of Ildefonsus, which is our main source for his life. In his capacity as abbot of Agali, Ildefonsus was present at the Eighth and Ninth Councils of Toledo in 653 and 655. Because of his Marian devotion, he is sometimes considered responsible for the project to establish the feast of Mary in December, which was introduced by the Tenth Council of Toledo in 656. Ildefonsus, however, does not appear amongst the signatories of the council, so it seems that he did not take part in the proceedings. Four works were certainly authored by Ildefonsus of Toledo – On the Virginity of Holy Mary, On the Lives of Famous Men, On the Understanding of Baptism and On the Way of the Desert. There are also letters and liturgical texts (see Clavis Patrum Latinorum nos. 1247-1256). Their exact chronology is uncertain. On the Lives of Famous Men was probably written sometime during Ildefonsus' episcopate, between 657 and 667.


The location of the monastery of Servitanum and Donatus's tomb is uncertain. Donatus's successor as abbot, Eutropius (later bishop of Valencia), addressed his letter De districtione monachorum to Peter, bishop of Ercavica (around 150 km north-east to Toledo), which suggests that Servitanum was in his diocese. For Donatus's fame as a miracle-worker see E02480.


Edition and translation: Codoñer Merino, C., De viris illustribus, in: Ildefonsi Toletani opera omnia (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 114A; Turnhout, 2007), 595-616. Fear, A.T., Lives of the Visigothic Fathers (Translated Texts for Historians 26; Liverpool 1997), 107–122.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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