English Language and Literature ETDs

Publication Date

Winter 2020


By considering the way that medieval people would have responded to the hagiography, relics, and shrine of St. Swithun based on their experience as readers and pilgrims, this project will survey the rationale behind the veneration of a saint whose life was largely unknown yet who was ardently beloved and honored in death. That there is not any book-length scholarship dedicated to St. Swithun or his cult aside from Lapidge’s edition, The Cult of St. Swithun, further demonstrates the way that this project will fill a gap in scholarship about the history and sociocultural relevance of this still-famous saint. My dissertation paints a picture of how St. Swithun’s afterlife affected the ecclesiastical communities at Winchester and how the cult of the saint developed and changed in Winchester and beyond through the end of the medieval period. By considering this, I argue that the architectural features of the original Saxon cathedral, the Old Minster (particularly after the cathedral was rebuilt in the late-eleventh century), and eventually the Norman Winchester Cathedral compelled visitors to the saint’s shrine to reenact Swithun’s translatioand thus fundamentally connected Winchester as a locusto Swithun’s virtusin an experiential way; as a result, pilgrimage to Winchester was a necessary component for any medieval person who aspired to venerate Swithun.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Jonthan Davis-Secord

Second Committee Member

Timothy Graham

Third Committee Member

Anita Obermeier

Fourth Committee Member

Justine Andrews


anglo-latin, medieval, hagiography, Swithun, Lantfred, Wulfstan, Winchester, Old Minster, Winchester Cathedral, saints lives

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