From Sithiu to Saint-Bertin: Hagiographic Exegesis and Collective Memory in the Early Medieval Cults of Omer and Bertin
Studies and Texts 219 • 2019 • xiv, 340 pp. • ISBN 978-0-88844-219-2 • Cloth • $95
Medieval historians who have explored the abbey of Sithiu (modern Saint-Omer) have often done so to explain the competition between the canons of Saint-Omer and the monks of Saint-Bertin, a rivalry deriving from their shared origins in the abbey of Sithiu. However, David Defries’s book centers on the cooperative relationship that developed between the saints Omer and Bertin in the monks’ collective memory. Throughout the early Middle Ages, the cults of the abbey’s two patron saints shaped the life of the community at Sithiu, and the first four centuries of its development reveal how a group of monks negotiated their place in the larger Christian West, adapting Columbanian and Benedictine identities to fit the relationship they discerned between Omer and Bertin.