A Medieval Pharm in a Garden Patch


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Walafrid Strabo’s 9th century On the Cultivation of Gardens, commonly called Hortulus, is a gem. It stands out among early medieval accounts of royal conquests and saints’ lives.

Most writers of Walafrid’s time would have thought gardening too mundane. If you read only this poem, you might not guess Walafrid was a scholar, a tutor to one of Charlemagne’s grandsons, the abbot of Reichenau, and a diplomat. He was a Swabian commoner who had been at Reichenau since age 8 and apparently had a lifelong love of gardening.

He tells his readers if they’re not afraid to get calluses on grubby hands, haul cow manure to parched soil, and work hard, they can make even gravel and sand yield herbs and produce. Some of his verses have a familiar feel. The plot he wants to cultivate is overtaken by weeds, stinging nettles in fact, and mole tunnels need flattening.

Walafrid describes the plants’ looks and fragrances, refers to Roman mythology (and is sometimes confused), and goes off on a tangent about free trade. He has special praise for the lily and the rose. But most of this poem is about the healing properties of the plants. From the ninth century point of view (pretty please with sugar on top note the disclaimer), horehound is an antidote to poison an evil stepmother might slip into food. Agrimony with sharp vinegar can be used to heal open wounds. Poppy causes oblivion and heals a bad ulcer in the chest. Catmint mixed with rose oil can restore skin and hair. Lily will counteract a snakebite and treat bruises. Various herbs can help with digestive problems and coughs.

If you want to read this delightful poem, I highly recommend James Mitchell’s 2009 translation.

9th century manuscript page from Salzburg

Detail of 9th century manuscript page from Salzburg (public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Solved: the Origin of Images of a Lombard King


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When I first encountered these illustrations of 8th century Lombard King Desiderius and his world, I wondered where they came from.

Desiderius at Court illustration

Desiderius Lombard camp illustrationAdalgis illustration

Oh, I knew they weren’t historically accurate, but I gave up on that when I started blogging in 2011. Blog posts are better when they have images. They add interest to the text and help when writers are promoting their work on social media.

My problem as a 21st-century author: 8th century artists were more interested in saints and other religious figures. Even contemporary images of Charlemagne are hard to find. Since then, artists have been more interested in the story they’re trying to tell than being true to the facts. The one who created these images is no exception.

These images appeared to be from the 19th century, and it turns out I was right. Thanks to Wikimedia Commons, I finally know their origin. They are indeed illustrations for Alessandro Manzoni’s 1822 tragedy Adelchi (which also take liberties with the facts). The book they appear in was published in 1845. Here is one of the full pages, via Wikimedia Commons, with all its lovely flourishes.

I felt a thrill as I (virtually) turned the pages and beheld the images. At least one mystery was laid to rest.

Re-creating St. Riquier before the Famous Abbot


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Charlemagne’s friend Abbot Angilbert transformed the monastery of St. Riquier into an early medieval center for learning. He donated 200 manuscripts, acquired a lot of relics and set up altars for them, and bought expensive lighting, among other things. Too bad my characters in The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar visit the place in 778, 12 years before Angilbert’s appointment.

There is little information about the monastery before Angilbert ruled it and its origin compounds my dilemma on how to portray it.  Influenced by Irish missionaries, Saint Richarius founded it around 625, which meant he likely followed the Rule of Saint Columbanus rather than the Rule of Saint Benedict. Columbanus was more austere, and the Celtic practice had a different tonsure and a different liturgical calendar.

As a novelist, I had questions to answer. Whose rule do the monks follow? What relics do they use? What does the reliquary for their founder look like?

Authors of historical fiction have more than one right answer. Because a novelist is not a scholar, I side with those who think it’s OK to play with facts. If making the monastery a center for learning 12 years earlier best serves the story, a writer can do so and disclose that liberty in an author’s note.

My illiterate characters in Ashes don’t care if St. Riquier is a center for learning. They know books are valuable and will pray before relics, but all they really want is to trade goods with the abbot and have a safe place to sleep and rest their animals. For Ashes, I decided to make my best guess of what the monastery was like at the time. So St. Riquier doesn’t have all those books in the library or so many relics or the silver and gold rings to hold candles. Eighth-century monasteries likely followed the Benedictine rule, so St. Riquier does, too. The founding saint rests in a tomb rather than a golden reliquary.

The relic my characters swear upon for a trial is not entirely made up. A tree Saint Richarius like to rest under existed in the 8th and 9th centuries, and it was not to be chopped down. Twigs and branches fall from trees, and one of those pieces of wood is perfect for what I and my characters need.

St. Riquier

A 17th century illustration (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

A Visit That Changed a Life and Led to Sainthood


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What did those Irish missionaries say to Richarius that made him give up what he knew and devote his life to Christ?

As with many early medieval saints, information about the seventh century Frank also known as Riquier is scant and contradictory, but the stories are tantalizing. Whether they’re true is up to the reader.

Richarius was born in a village then known as Centula in today’s France. Either he was working class guy who pursued rustic occupations or he was a nobleman, depending on which source you consult. With the events that follow, I think he was an aristocrat. Whatever his background, the visit of the two Irish missionaries, Caidoc and Fricor, changed his life.

When the visitors arrived in Centula, they were mistreated by the locals. Except for Richarius, who offered his hospitality. After listening to their preaching, Richarius repented of his sins. So much that one story has him surviving only on barley bread strewn with ashes and water often mingled with his tears. Another has him offering protection to his guests so they could preach freely – something a nobleman could do.

Richarius later became a priest providing relief for the sick and poor and redeeming captives. He spent few years as a missionary in Britain, then returned to Centula, where he founded a monastery around 625 and served as its first abbot. Such an accomplishment would be easier for a nobleman, especially if he already owned the property to give to the Church.

 St. Riquier Abbey

A 17th century illustration of St. Riquier Abbey (public domain)

Apparently, Richarius remained close to Caidoc and Fricor. They joined him at Centula and spent the rest of their lives there.

As an abbot, Richarius would be in a position of influence. He had control over land, which was power in early medieval times, and could make alliances among fellow noblemen, both lay and clergy. In addition, the medieval populace believed that prayers from the monks could sway events here on earth, including who won the battles.

During a visit from Frankish King Dagobert, Richarius impressed the monarch by giving him good advice, especially not to listen to flatterers, and the king rewarded him with a generous gift.

Richarius could have kept his place as abbot for life. Or if illness prevented him from performing his duties, he could retire in relative comfort at the monastery. Instead when his health was failing, he traveled 15 miles away to a forest and lived in a hut with only one companion, Sigobart.

Shortly before his death, believed to be April 26, 643, he told Sigobart to make a coffin. His grieving companion felled an oak in whose trunk the body was placed. The monks at Centula must have guessed that Richarius would soon be declared a saint, a decision of local bishops at the time, and took his relics back to the monastery.

St. Riquier’s relics

St. Riquier’s relics in the abbey he founded (by Paul Hermans, GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0)

About 150 years later, that monastery, named St. Riquier, became a center for learning with Angilbert as its abbot. His close friend, Charlemagne, provided a golden shrine for the founder’s relics.

I had to research the monastery for The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar, which has a few scenes taking place there 12 years before Angilbert becomes its abbot. During a trial, the characters swear on a piece of wood from a tree the monastery’s founder liked to rest under.

This post was originally published on English Historical Fiction Authors on Oct. 19, 2014. Images are via Wikimedia Commons.


Lives of the Saints, Omer Englebert

A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects and Doctrines: Naamanes-Zuntfredus Sir William Smith, Henry Wace

The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints, Alban Butler

Daily Life in the World of Charlemagne, Pierre Riché (translated by Jo Ann McNamara)

An Ecclesiastical History of Ireland, from the First Introduction of Christianity among the Irish to the Beginning of the 13th Century, John Lanigan

Medieval Easter Was Not Joyous for Everyone


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What would Easter mean to an 8th century Saxon peasant who converted to Christianity with no education whatsoever? Especially if she was a slave in a foreign land and still learning the language? These are among the questions I explore in The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar as my heroine, Leova, experiences the holy day for the first time.

Her children are the only thing she has left. During Charlemagne’s first war in Saxony the previous summer, she lost everything—her husband, her home, her faith, her freedom.

At this point in the story, Leova and her children have wound up in Nevers, where her master, Ragenard the merchant, lives. In that time, the folk spoke Roman, a form of Latin but not the language of the Church and very different from the Germanic Saxon language.

I chose to call the holiday Pasch for a couple of reasons. The word Easter is close to Eostre, a pagan goddess of spring. Pasch is similar to the French name for the holiday, and it comes to us from Anglo-French and Latin.

Johannes Gehrts' 1901

Johannes Gehrts’ 1901 “Ostara,” another name for Eostre (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

With all this in mind, here is my imagining of how a new Christian and foreigner would perceive the Feast of the Resurrection:

The Christian rites continued to puzzle her. The week before a holy day called Pasch, which Sunwynn explained was the day Jesu rose from the dead, chanting monks and priests led a procession through the city and received long, thin leaves. Leova and her children followed with the rest of the faithful holding yew and willow twigs.

Two days later, a priest visited the house, and for the next few mornings, Ragenard managed to dress and come to the hall. Yet it seemed as if even that small effort exhausted him. He spoke only a few pleasantries to Leova before returning to bed.

Will he ever show fondness for me again?

On the feast day, Ragenard attended Mass along with everyone else in the city, and the crowd overflowed down the steps. As the priests gave altar bread and wine to the faithful, Ragenard seemed barely able to stand. Another procession with priests holding crosses, censers, and several golden jeweled boxes followed. Ragenard looked like he would collapse.

In the procession, the Roman buzz of gossip deepened Leova’s loneliness. On the temperate days like this in Eresburg, she and other wives had talked about their husbands and children and the upcoming Feast of Erda. The return of spring was empty here without the goddess. Leova longed for Derwine. He would have comforted her. Even if she and Ragenard were speaking to each other, Ragenard would not have understood.

Saint Christopher: A Tough Guy Protecting Medieval Travelers


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Travel in medieval times was often slow, unpleasant, and dangerous. At any time, someone could break a wheel, a person or animal could get sick, a storm could arrive suddenly, or brigands or demons could attack. You needed all the protection you could get and who better than Saint Christopher, a giant of a man so tough that only God was a worthy master?

Belief in Christopher was so strong that just seeing his image assured the viewers that they would not die that day (or at least not faint or fall). He was popular everywhere, but churches in medieval England had the most murals with his image.

Yet the one certainty about Christopher is that he was a martyr in Asia Minor, probably in the third century. The image in my mind is of a huge man who goes by a name that means Christ-bearer in Greek and decides that he will not stop preaching. He would rather die and go to heaven than renounce his faith and condemn his soul to hell. (Reports that the Church ruled in 1969 that he didn’t exist are wrong. Christopher is still a saint, but his feast was reduced to local cult rather than universal.)

Saint Christopher

Saint Christopher, from the Westminster Psalter, circa 1250 (public domain image via Wikimedia Commons)

Like many early saints, most of what we know about Christopher comes from legend. Originally named Offerus, he was a big guy and vowed to serve only a master who feared nothing. First, he served a king, but the king was afraid the devil. Then Offerus served the devil until the devil admitted he frightened by the cross.

Offerus decided Christ was the master for him and met a hermit who instructed and baptized him. Renamed Christopher, he decided to serve God by carrying people to safety across a raging stream.

One day, a child asked to be carried. No big deal, right? Well, the kid got heavy, so heavy Christopher feared he would drown. On the other side, Christopher asked the child why it felt like the world was on his shoulders, and the child revealed he was Christ and yes, he was carrying the whole world. To prove it, he told Christopher to plant his staff in the ground, and the next morning, it was a tree bearing flowers and dates.

Christopher then decided to travel and preach and perform miracles, winning a lot of converts. But that’s when he got into trouble. The authorities were unhappy and had him tortured and executed.

Over the centuries, the story has variations. As early as the fifth century, a church was dedicated to him, and in the eighth century, his legend was written in Greek and Latin. Its final form appears in the 13th-century Golden Legend.

You could argue that Christopher’s story is an allegory of what it means to bear Christ in your heart and endure the trials of following the faith. But I suspect Christopher’s legend was true in the minds of medieval folk. Although Christopher wasn’t a knight and dragon-slayer like Saint George, he was a brave and strong man, one who helped ordinary people in the travails of travel. Perhaps that is why he captured the medieval imagination and is so beloved.


St. Christopher” by Francis Mershman, The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, 1908

The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, Fifth Edition Revised, by David Farmer

The Life of Christopher,” The Golden Legend, from the Medieval Sourcebook

Butler’s Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler

St. Christopher was demoted but remains a saint,” by Ellen Creager of Knight Ridder Newspapers, Abilene Reporter-News, June 6, 1998

EWTN, Fr. John Echert answering a question about St. Christopher

This post was originally published at English Historical Fiction Authors on Aug. 5, 2014.

Medieval Misconception: They Didn’t Bathe


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When I decided to write a novel based on one of the Roland legends, I knew very little about the Middle Ages, but I was certain of one thing: medieval people didn’t bathe. I recall being told by teachers that the folk thought it was unhealthy. As an author, all I needed to decide was whether the characters would notice how bad they smelled.

So imagine my surprise to find a section about bathing in Pierre Riche’s Daily Life in the World of Charlemagne. Carolingian princes took baths and changed their clothes once a week. OK, so that’s not as often as Americans who can’t live without their daily showers, but it’s a lot more frequent than what I was led to believe.

Commoners would have bathed less often than aristocrats because of the time and labor it took to fill a tub, but they would have bathed as often as they could.

Medieval Bathing

Public domain image via Wikimedia Commons

So how did the misconception of medieval filthiness come into being? We can blame the plague for that, or rather belief about how the plague was spread in the 15th century—bad air that entered the body through the pores. Medical treatises of the time advised against frequent bathing, among other things, in order to keep the pores closed.

Go back to the Carolingians of the eighth and ninth centuries, and you’ll find a different attitude. Baths were a requirement for palaces, and bathhouses contained hot and cold pools. The bathhouse at the Charlemagne’s palace at Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle in French) was spring fed and could accommodate up to 100 bathers.

Abbeys also had baths for the residents, guests, and the sick. Yes, you read that last part right, the sick, who were allowed baths on a mostly regular basis. So much for bathing being bad for health. Frequent hair-washing in the winter was to be avoided, but that’s not exactly a surprise when you consider how cold it was indoors.

Some medieval people didn’t bathe, but the reason had nothing to do with health. Abstaining from the bath was a form of penance, just like giving up wine or meat or something else you enjoy.

Between baths, people of all classes would wash using basins of cold water. Just like most of us, medieval people wanted to be clean.


Daily Life in the World of Charlemagne, Pierre Riche, translated by Jo Ann McNamara

Daily Life in Medieval Times, Frances and Joseph Gies

This post was originally published on Jan. 23, 2013, on Unusual Historicals.

Willibrord: A Saint Enmeshed in Politics


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Around 716, Saint Willibrord, the Northumbrian-born bishop of Frisia, faced a difficult choice as Francia was embroiled in civil war: whose side should he choose in this high-stakes family fight over an inheritance?

Should he support Plectrude, widow of Mayor of the Palace Pepin II? Willibrord owed his monastery in Echternach to Plectrude’s mother, Irmina, who had given him the property 10 years before. Later, Plectrude and Pepin donated more land to the abbey on the condition that Willibrord’s successors remain loyal to Pepin’s sons by Plectrude and their descendants. (At this time, power rested with the mayor of the palace, who raised and led armies.)

Or should Willibrord get behind 30-year-old Charles, Pepin’s son by the concubine Alpais? Later nicknamed “Martel” or “The Hammer,” Charles was winning on the battlefield against Ragenfred, a Neustrian rebel, and more important to Willibrord, the rebel’s ally, Radbod, a pagan Frisian chieftain. (To make matters even more complicated, Radbod was the father-in-law of one of Pepin and Plectrude’s deceased sons.)

Hostile to Christianity, Radbod had driven Willibrord out of Frisia, burned churches, and killed many missionaries.  At the time, Willibrord was about 58, an old man by medieval standards. Although he had been dedicated to the Church as a young child and tonsured at age 15, perhaps his fate in the afterlife weighed more heavily on his mind. Would God hold him accountable for the souls lost in Frisia?


Willibrord in a 10th century manuscript (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Willibrord had been a missionary on the Continent since 690, following a 12-year stint in Ireland, where he might have been influenced by Ecgbert, who wanted to evangelize the pagan Saxons but was prevented from doing so, and Ecgbert’s companion Wichtberct, who had tried preaching to the Frisians for two years without success.

He decided to seek Pepin’s protection soon after arriving at Utrecht. Pepin was successful on the battlefield, having won Utrecht and Vechten from Radbod.

Pepin and Willibrord’s relationship was mutually beneficial. For a medieval ruler, God’s favor was essential for victory. Another reason for a Frankish aristocrat to care about the Frisians’ religion has as much to do with politics as saving souls. Pepin had pagan enemies in the Danes and the Saxons to the north and east. If the Frisians were Christian, they would be more likely to ally themselves with the Franks.

To that end, Pepin wanted Willibrord to have the pope’s blessing for the mission in Frisia and sent Willibrord to Rome in 692. Willibrord returned to Rome three years later, was consecrated a bishop, and received a pallium, a vestment for high-ranking clergymen specially honored by the pope.

Willibrord’s mission took him into northern Francia, Frisia, and Denmark, the last of which he gave up on except for 30 boys he instructed and had baptized. He suffered a setback when the aging and ailing Pepin died on Dec. 16, 714. Francia was torn apart as Ragenfred (allied with Radbod), Plectrude, and Charles fought for control. Willibrord retreated to Echternach.

Charles Martel

Charles Martel (image released to public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Sources don’t say if Willibrord agonized over his decision between Plectrude and Charles or prayed about it, but he decided to support Charles, despite his past with Plectrude. Perhaps he reasoned that the only way for him or his successors to get back to the mission of saving souls in Frisia was for Charles to defeat Radbod.

Apparently, Willibrord, later known as the Apostle of the Frisians, made the right decision. In 718, Charles had a decisive victory against Radbod, who died a year later of unknown causes, anything from illness to complications from his wounds to assassination by his own people. With this Frankish victory, Willibrord was again in Frisia, perhaps taking on secular responsibilities as administrator of Frisian lands in addition to spiritual duties.

His decision would have a larger impact than he originally realized. For three years, his assistant in Frisia was the much younger Boniface, later a saint called the Apostle of Germany.

This post was originally published on English Historical Fiction Authors on March 24, 2014.


Saint Willibrord website

Alcuin’s The Life of Saint Willibrord

St. Willibrord” by Francis Mershman, The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 15

The Carolingians: A Family who Forged Europe, Pierre Riché, translated by Michael Idomir Allen

Early Carolingian Warfare: Prelude to Empire, Bernard S. Bachrach

Heaven’s Purge: Purgatory in Late Antiquity, Isabel Moreira

Charlemagne: Hero or Villain?


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Did Charlemagne unite his country when he seized his dead brother’s kingdom from his toddling nephews? Did he save Rome from the invading Lombards? Did he destroy the Irminsul, a pillar sacred to the Continental Saxon peoples? Did he have his daughters educated along with sons? Did he cut his eldest son from the succession?

All of the above. Whether those actions make him a hero or a monster depends on whose side you’re on. Or in in the case of a historical novelist, which character’s point of view.

Alda, a Frankish aristocrat and heroine of The Cross and the Dragon, sees him as a hero. She follows the gossip about tensions between Charles and his younger brother, Carloman, each of whom inherited a kingdom when their father died. After Carloman’s death from an illness, she is relieved a strong leader takes over the entire realm, even though it means the king divorces a Lombard princess and marries a girl from an important family in Carloman’s former kingdom. Alda has little sympathy for Charles’s ex-father-in-law, Lombard King Desiderius, and supports the Franks’ invasion to save Rome from him.

Charlemagne and Widukind

Charlemagne reçoit la soumission de Widukind à Paderborn (1840), by Ary Scheffer (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Leova, a pagan, peasant Saxon and the heroine of The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar, has a very different take. In her eyes, Charles is a monster. His 772 invasion of Eresburg and the burning of the Irminsul ruin the good life she had. She has lost everything – her husband, her home, her faith, even her freedom. All she has left are her children, Deorlaf and Sunwynn. The only Frank she loathes more than Charles is Pinabel, a count who could have preserved the Saxon family’s freedom but bought them as slaves instead.

Fastrada, the heroine of my work in progress Queen of the Darkest Hour, has yet another perspective. As Charles’s fourth wife, she sees him as a husband and father. Pepin, Charles’s son from his first marriage, is angry with his dad because he feels cheated out of his inheritance.

So who was this guy we today call Charlemagne? It depends on whom you ask.

This post was originally published Sept. 1, 2014, at So Many Books, So Little Time.

Saint Ursula: A Story of Courage


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Most of what we know about Saint Ursula is from legend. Actually, legends, plural, with many fantastic elements. But I suspect there is truth buried within this story of courage. Virgins were martyred in Cologne, Germany, and they might have come from Britain.

The oldest version, a fifth-century Latin inscription in a Cologne church bearing Saint Ursula’s name, provides only a hint: “Often admonished by divine visions and by the consideration of the majesty of the martyrdom of the holy virgins who appeared to him, Clematius, a nobleman of the East, according to vow, thoroughly restored this basilica on his own estate and at his own expense (translation from Golden Hours by J. Jackson Wray).” A ninth-century addendum gives a dire warning: “But if anyone, notwithstanding the majesty of the place where the holy virgins shed their blood for the name of Christ, should dare to bury any person here, let him know that he shall be punished by the eternal fire of hell.”

The century of the virgins’ martyrdom is unclear; it could be third, fourth, or fifth.

In earlier versions of the story, who is leading the group changes, but later versions settle on Ursula. And the number of Ursula’s companions was closer to 10 than 11,000, the latter number appearing by the ninth century.

Nicolo di Pietro's

Nicolo di Pietro’s St. Ursula, circa 1410

The legend is more fleshed out in the 11th century. Ursula and the pagan Aetherius are betrothed. Having pledged herself to Christ, Ursula seeks to delay the marriage by going on pilgrimage. She takes 10 attendants, and each woman has 1,000 companions. They sail on the Rhine and stop at Cologne, where an angel tells Ursula they will be martyred on their return visit to the city.

Undeterred, Ursula and her companions continue their journey. At Basel, they pick up the local bishop and go all the way to Rome. There, the remaining pagans, including Aetherius, are baptized. Moved by a vision of an army of martyrs, the British-born Pope Cyriacus abdicates, so that he can share their martyrdom. (Conspiracy theorists explain you can’t find any mention of this pope in the records because the powers in Rome were so mad they erased his name.)

The group returns to Cologne, where they are indeed slaughtered with arrows by Huns in hatred of the faith. Then the army of martyrs drives the Huns away.

In Geoffrey of Monmouth’s fictionalized history of Britain, Ursula is the daughter of Dianotus, king of Cornwell, and she and her companions are being sent to Armorica (Brittany) to provide conquering soldiers with wives. After being shipwrecked, the women are slaughtered by – you guessed it – the Huns, angry at being rebuffed by the beautiful ladies. No mention of vows of chastity or dying for Christ.

Hans Holbein the Younger's

Hans Holbein the Younger’s St. Ursula, circa 1523

Regardless of what is accurate about the legend, the martyrs existed and their story of courage has inspired generations of believers.

About 1,000 years after the virgins’ death, their story was included in The Golden Legend, a book read to St. Angela de Merici when she was a child. Ursula’s legend must have stayed with her throughout her life. In 1535, the 61-year-old Angela founded an order under the patronage of Saint Ursula. The Ursulines are best known for educating girls, founding communities and schools throughout the world.

Images are in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.


Golden Hours, J. Jackson Wray

“St. Ursula and the Eleven Thousand Virgins,” Albert Poncelet. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15.

St. Angela Merici,” Michael Ott. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1.

The British History of Geoffrey of Monmouth

St. Ursula and the Eleven Thousand Virgins of Cologne: Relics, Reliquaries and the Visual Culture of Group Sanctity in Late Medieval Europe, Scott B. Montogomery

Sisters of the Irish Ursuline Union

This post was originally published Jan. 16, 2014, at English Historical Fiction Authors.