File(s) not publicly available

E06929: Aldhelm, in his poem On the Altars of the Twelve Apostles, records the dedication of an altar to *Simon ('the Zealot,' Apostle of Christ, S00835), 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, 4.11

Simon Zelotes necnon Cananeus idem,
Inter apostolicos Petri cognomine functus;
Coetus qui docuit gentiles dogma supernum,
Ut celsum peterent caelesti tramite regnum;
Cuius in hac aula sacra conservabitur ara,
Dum polus et tellus ac ponti flustra fatescant,
Donec supremis scintillent saecla favillis
Et mundi moles montes collesque liquescant
Atque creaturae cerarum fluxus adinstar
Machina succumbat flamma crepitante per orbem.

'xi. On St Simon the Zealot
Simon the Zealot, the same who was a Chanaanite [Mt. 10:4], was known among the apostles by the name of Peter. He taught pagan multitudes the divine doctrine so that they might seek the heavenly kingdom along a celestial path. In this church his holy altar shall be preserved until the sky and the earth and the waters of the sea fade away, up till the moment when all ages burn in the final conflagration, and the mass of the earth, hills and mountains melts, and the structure of creation dissolves like a flux of wax, with fire crackling throughout the world.'

Text: Ehwald 1919, 30. Translation: Lapidge and Rosier 1985, 56.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Simon Kananaios, the Zealot, apostle of Christ : S00835

Saint Name in Source

Simon Zelotes

Type of Evidence

Literary - Poems



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