Jonas of Bobbio

Life of Columbanus, Life of John of Réomé, and Life of Vedast

Translated with commentary by Alexander O'Hara and Ian Wood

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ISBN: 9781781381762

Publication: February 13, 2017

Series: Translated Texts for Historians 64

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Jonas of Bobbio was an Italian monk, author, and abbot, active in Lombard Italy and Merovingian Gaul during the seventh century. He is best known as the author of the Life of Columbanus and His Disciples, one of the most important works of hagiography from the early medieval period, that charts the remarkable journey of the Irish exile and monastic founder, Columbanus (d. 615), through Western Europe, as well as the monastic movement initiated by him and his Frankish successors in the Merovingian kingdoms. In the years following Columbanus’s death numerous new monasteries were built by his successors and their elite patrons in Francia that decisively transformed the inter-relationship between monasteries and secular authorities in the Early Middle Ages. Jonas also wrote two other, occasional works set in the late fifth and sixth centuries: the Life of John, the abbot and founder of the monastery of Réomé in Burgundy, and the Life of Vedast, the first bishop of Arras and a contemporary of Clovis. Both works provide perspectives on how the past Gallic monastic tradition, the role of bishops, and the Christianization of the Franks were perceived in Jonas’s time. Jonas’s hagiography also provides important evidence for the reception of classical and late antique texts as well as the works of Gregory the Great and Gregory of Tours.This volume presents the first complete English translation of all of Jonas of Bobbio’s saints’ Lives with detailed notes and scholarly introduction that will be of value to all those interested in this period.

Dr Alexander O'Hara is a Research Fellow of the Institut für Mittelalterforschung in the Austrian Academy of Sciences and an Hon. Research Fellow of the School of History, University of St Andrews.

Professor Ian Wood is Professor of Early Medieval History in the Institute for Medieval Studies at the University of Leeds. His research interests focus on the history and historiography of the early Middle Ages. Previous publications include Avitus of Vienne: Letters and Selected Prose (TTH, LUP, 2002).



1. The works of Jonas of Bobbio.
2. Francia in the Days of Columbanus.
3. The Gallic Church of the Late Sixth Century.
4. Columbanus and his ascetic exile to the continent.
5. Columbanus’s legacy.
6. Jonas of Bobbio:  an Italian monk in Merovingian Gaul.
7. The manuscripts of the Life of Columbanus and the structure of the text.
8. Jonas the hagiographer and his Christian sources.
9. The Second Book of the Life of Columbanus and his Disciples.
10. Language and Style.
11. Jonas’s Life of John.
12. The Life of Vedast of Arras.  Author and text.
13. Conclusion - the influence of Jonas’s hagiography.
14. A note on the text and translations of the Life of Columbanus.

Jonas, The Life of Columbanus.
 Book I.
 Verses and Hymn.
 Book II.

Jonas, The Life of John.

Jonas (?), The Life of Vedast.

1. Textual Variants.
2. Distribution of Biblical Quotations.
3. Parallels between Regula cuiusdam ad virgines and Jonas’s hagiographical works.
4. Three diplomas associated with Bobbio and Faremoutiers in the time of Jonas.


1. Ireland in the Days of Columbanus,
2. Francia, c. 590.
3. Burgundy c. 590-610.
4. Luxeuil and its environs.
5. Francia, c.610.
6. Early Columbanian foundations.
7. The World of Jonas.
8. The World of the Life of Vedast.
9. Arras in the Merovingian period.

This very welcome new translation is also a highly sophisticated scholarly edition. It is particularly rich in bibliography, with an extensive listing of virtually all the secondary literature on Columban and his times.
Terrence Kardong, American Benedictine Review


This book is a timely and meaningful contribution to the scholarship on Merovingian Gaul. It is important not only for its accessible translation of a large and difficult corpus of works set against a complicated historical and textual background, but also for its clear synthesis of current scholarship. Finally, it elegantly succeeds in navigating the “Irish” vs. “Frankish” controversy, which seems to have reawakened of late.
Yaniv Fox, Speculum


There is a richness to the material which O'Hara and Wood have done us a great service in making more accessible.

Jamie Kreiner, The Medieval Review


Format: Hardback

Size: 210 × 147 mm

400 Pages

ISBN: 9781781381762

Publication: February 13, 2017

Series: Translated Texts for Historians 64

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