Vitae Amandi

St Amandus (d. c. 675) was one of the first missionary bishops of Pippinid circles. He was bishop of Maastricht, founder of Elnon, and helped to found the Pippinid foundation of Nivelles. The hagiography about him, according to Ian Wood, marks a turning point after which it was more common to define a saint extensively by their missionary work.

The evidence for hagiography about St Amandus poses some problems. Bruno Krusch edited the Vita prima for MGH and argued that it must have been composed in the second half of the eighth century, not least because he detected some influence from Willibald’s Vita Bonifatii (although it is not clear to me why the stream of influence could not have gone the other way). A version of the Vita Amandi may also have influenced the work of Arbeo of Freising, written at least in part in response to Willibald’s work. We must now say ‘a’ version, because in 1976 Josef Riedmann found a fragment of an eighth-century manuscript which contains part of a different early Vita Amandi, which we will call the Vita antiqua. Building on Riedmann’s initial analysis, Declercq and Verhulst argued that the Vita antiquissima had been paraphrased in inquisitor Bernard Gui’s Speculum sanctorale, so we do at least tentatively have some indication of what this earlier text might have looked like. According to Declercq and Verhulst, the two earliest lives were probably written in the same place, and consensus generally prefers the monastery of Elnon.

Latin Texts:

[Bernard Gui’s summary of] Vita Amandi antiqua, Patrologia Latina 87. 1267-72 [link]

Vita Amandi prima, ed. B. Krusch, MGH SRM 5 (Hanover, 1910) [link]


The Vita Amandi prima is translated in J. N. Hillgarth, Christianity and Paganism, 350-750: The Conversion of Western Europe (Philadelphia, 1986).


The only witness to the Vita antiqua is Innsbruck, Tiroler Landesmuseen, FB 32.141.

As with many Merovingian hagiographies, there is underwhelming early manuscript evidence for the Vita prima but it includes:

Wuerzburg, Universitaetsbibliothek, M. p. th. q. 15 [link] – produced in Freising under Bishop Hitto (d. 836). The version of the Vita prima is heavily abbreviated.

St Gall, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 563 [link] – from St Gall in the late ninth or early tenth century. The manuscript contains a number of Merovingian saints’ Lives or their rewrites.