University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E06921: Aldhelm, in his poem On the Altars of the Twelve Apostles, records the dedication of an altar to *Andrew (the Apostle, S00288), presumably in Britain. Written in Latin in southern Britain, c. 670/710.

online resource
posted on 2018-10-17, 00:00 authored by bsavill
Aldhelm, Carmina Ecclesiastica, 4.3

Hic simul Andreas templum tutabitur ara,
Petri germanus, qui quondam funera laetus
Horrida perpessus sancta cum carne pependit.
Quem Deus oceani lustrantem flustra phasello
Caelitus adscivit gradiens per litora ponti;
Protinus Andreas compunctus voce Tonantis
Credidit aeternum salvantem saecula regem
Pendula capturae contemnens retia spretae
Et dicto citius Christi praecepta facessit.

Quis numerare valet populosis oppida turbis,
Illius eloquio quae fana profana friabant
Credula pandentes regi praecordia Christo?
Nempe vicem Domino solvebat calce cruenta,
Dum crucis in patulo suspensus stipite martyr
Ultima mortalis clausit spiracula vitae
Purpureas sumens Christo regnante coronas.

'iii. On St Andrew
Here too the church shall be protected by the altar of St Andrew, the brother of Peter, who once joyfully suffered a terrible death, hanged by his holy flesh. Christ, walking along the shore of the Sea (of Galilee), accepted Andrew by divine prescience, as he was traversing the waves of the sea in a skiff [Mt. 4:18]. Straightaway Andrew, moved by the voice of God, put his belief in the Eternal King Who redeems the world; scorning his dangling nets and rejecting their catch, he implemented Christ's commands more quickly than the telling of it.

Who would be able to enumerate the many towns with their populous crowds which, as a result of Andrew's teaching, demolished their unholy holies and opened their believing hearts to Christ the King? Indeed he recompensed his Lord with his bloody end when he was hanged as a martyr from the broad tree of the cross; he breathed the last breath of this mortal life, taking on a purple crown in Christ's kingdom.'

Text: Ehwald 1919, 22-3. Translation: Lapidge and Rosier 1985, 52.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Andrew, the Apostle : S00288

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Poems


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Britain and Ireland

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

St Albans St Albans Verulamium

Major author/Major anonymous work


Cult activities - Places

Cult building - unspecified

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts


The Carmina Ecclesiastica is an editor's title for a collection of five dedicatory poems for churches and altars (tituli) by the Anglo-Saxon scholar Aldhelm (ob. 709/10), who probably never intended them to be viewed together as a single group (Lapidge and Rosier, 1985, 35-45). Aldhelm appears to have been a son of Centwine, king of the Gewisse or West Saxons (south-west Britain) from 676 until 682/5, when he abdicated and retired to a monastery. We do not know when Aldhelm himself took religious vows, but he definitely attended, perhaps for many years, Archbishop Theodore and Abbot Hadrian’s school at Canterbury (from shortly after 670?), and possibly studied at the Irish foundation of Iona, off the coast of north-west Britain (perhaps in the 660s?). Around 682/6 he became abbot of the West Saxon monastery of Malmesbury, and in 689 probably accompanied King Cædwalla on his pilgrimage to Rome (see E05710 and E06661). In 705/6 he was appointed ‘bishop west of the wood’ in his home kingdom (later identifiable with the diocese of Sherborne). (For all aspects of Aldhelm’s career, see Lapidge, 2007.) Carmen Ecclesiasticum 4 is by far the longest poem of the group, and is divided into twelve parts, one for each of the twelve Apostles (with Paul as the replacement for Judas Iscariot); we have entered each of these parts separately into our database, as E06919-E06930. The poem survives through four continental European manuscripts.


Bugga's church in Carmen Ecclesiasticum 3, with its primary dedication to Mary, is described as having 'holy altars [which] gleam in twelve-fold dedication' (E06918), so it is possible that the twelve poems to the different Apostles of Carmen Ecclesiasticum 4 relate to twelve altars in this church. Even if they refer to different institutions, the two poems suggest that twelve-fold apostolic dedications of churches may not have been unusual in the early Anglo-Saxon church. Aldhelm's main source for Carmen Ecclesiasticum 4 is Isidore of Seville's On the Origin and Death of the Fathers. (See further Lapidge and Rosier, 1985, 41-44, 239-42.)


Edition: Ehwald, R., Aldhelmi opera (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Auctores Antiquissimi 15; Berlin, 1919). Translation: Lapidge, M., and Rosier, J.L., Aldhelm, The Poetic Works (Cambridge, 1985). Further reading: Lapidge, M., "The Career of Aldhelm," Anglo-Saxon England 36 (2007), 15-69.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager