Jocelin of Furness (fl.1175x1214), the Cistercian hagiographer, composed four substantial and significant saints' lives; varying widely in both subject and patron, they offer a rich corpus of medieval hagiographical writing. Jocelin's Vita S. Patricii and Vita S. Kentegerni provide updated versions of each saint's legend and are carefully adapted to reflect the interests of their respective patrons in Ireland and Scotland. The Vita S. Helenae was probably commissioned by a female community in England; it represents an idealized narrative mirror of its early thirteenth-century context. In contrast, the Vita S. Waldevi was written to promote the formal canonization of a new saint, Waltheof (d.1159), abbot of the Cistercian house of Melrose in the Scottish borders.
This is the first full-length study of the Lives. It combines detailed analyses of the composition of the texts with study of their patronage, audiences, and contemporary contexts; and it provides new insights into Jocelin's works and the writing of hagiography in the period.
Dr HELEN BIRKETT is Lecturer in Medieval History, University of Exeter.