Jonas, Vita Columbani

One of the most important saints’ Lives of the Merovingian world, Jonas’s Vita Columbani provides a highly selective account of the continental career of the Irishman Columbanus (d. 615) and his various spiritual heirs at Luxeuil, Bobbio and Faremoutiers.

Latin text: ed. by B. Krusch, MGH SRG, 37 (Hanover and Leipzig, 1905) [link]

Translations: a new, full translation of Jonas’s text is desperately needed and at least one scholar is actively working on this. An old translation by D. C. Munro can be found here, but it is neither always particularly accurate nor does it share the textual divisions of Krusch’s text, published a few years later. It also only covers the first part of the work. The curious can reconstruct part of the remaining text using Ian Wood’s partial translation in T. Head (ed.), Medieval Hagiography: An Anthology (London, 2000) and Jo Ann MacNamara’s in Sainted Women of the Dark Ages (Durham, NC, 1992).


Although it is possible to trace the influence of Jonas’s work on other writers, the manuscript evidence for Vita Columbani is mostly late.

Manchester, John Rylands Library, MS 91 [link]

St Gall, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 553 [link] – from St Gall, late-ninth or tenth century.