Images of Sanctity in Eddius Stephanus' Life of Bishop Wilfrid, an Early English Saint's Life

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Narrative sources for early Anglo-Saxon church history reveal more than insights into the ecclesiastical and dynastic struggles of the time. It explores the Life of Bishop Wilfrid, an eighth-century account of a famous Anglo-Saxon abbot and bishop of Hexham, with an eye to exposing and analyzing the convictions of Wilfrid's biographer. Argues that the portrayal of Wilfrid's seemingly abrasive brand of sanctity approximates more closely the New Testament image of the holy man than other early English portrayals, especially the first portrayal of St. Cuthbert.


"This is an important and long overdue book. Its prime objective is to 'focus upon the religious convictions that undergird Stephen's narrative.' Such an approach is to be commended particularly as the author rightly reacts against the historiographical tradition within which the text has traditionally been viewed. . . . The author's approach links insights gained from theological study to Stephen's narrative." - Albion

"Foley is interesting on the possible influence on Wilfrid of the individual popes and bishops of Lyons of whom he would have had experience on his travels, such as Annemundus himself and the martyred Pope Martin I. Foley's discussion of Wilfrid's emphasis on canon law is effective, and his analysis of the differing ideals of sancitity in the Vita Wilfridi and the anonymous Vita Cuthberti is thought-provoking . . . . a welcome addition to discussions of the Vita Wilfridi in English." - The English Historical Review

". . . . the author's analysis of Wilfrid's self-understanding as a persecuted bishop in the Lyons-Rome model opens up a new understanding of both Stephanus and his subject. . . . Foley contends that modern scholars, following their much-venerated Bede, have brought into the view that the northern, eremitic Cuthbert truly exemplifies Northumbrian sanctity while the Romanized, episcopal Wilfrid could not. This is an excellent point, and one which Anglo-Saxonists must take seriously. . . . specialists will find it helpful." - Church History

". . . Foley's study is provocative because it directly assails conventional assumptions about the aims and relevance of the text at hand. Whereas most historians would be content to note that Stephen's Wilfrid is depicted as a type of Christ, Foley wonde

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