How to Search

Searches occur instantly when information is entered into the database search fields with no need to press a search button. It is possible to search with only limited information, such as by female saints only, or by entering information into multiple fields, such as female saints from Ireland with lives in Latin, etc. Anglo-Saxon saints whose names begin with Æ can be searched for in the ‘Saint’ field by typing Ae followed by the remainder of the saint’s name, thus Ælfheah can be found by typing ‘Aelfheah’. The field ‘Miracle accompanying conversion’ can be set to ‘All’, in which case search results will include all texts regardless of whether they contain a miracle or not; ‘Yes’, which will retrieve texts which do contain a miracle, regardless of whether it is posthumous or not; ‘No’ which will show results that do not contain a miracle; and ‘Posthumous miracles only’ which will present texts which only contain posthumous miracles.

Spelling / Orthography

Ligatures and Old English orthography are maintained in database. Tironian notes, e.g. ‘7’ have been kept as ‘7’. The spellings of Anglo-Saxon names follow conventions used in the Index to F. M. Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England, 3rd ed. (Oxford, 1971). Where a name is not found in Stenton’s Index, the spelling of a saint’s name follows that used in the edition cited.1 The spelling of the names of Irish saints has not been standardised, but in most instances the spelling in Sharpe's Medieval Irish Saints' Lives has been followed.2 The Latin names have been given for the Welsh saints followed in most instances by their name as it conforms to Modern Welsh spelling conventions.

Explanation of Result Fields

Main Results

This field contains the name of the saint who is the subject of the life.
Origin of Saint
It was deemed useful to record a saint’s origin to enable researchers to investigate texts not only on the basis of the place in which they were produced, but also on the basis of where a particular saint flourished. For example, St Neot is believed to have been an originally Cornish saint whose cult was appropriated by the Anglo-Saxons.3
This field notes the original language of the text. ‘Medieval Irish’ is used for texts that are in Old or Middle Irish.
Region refers to the insular region from which a text originates, or is believed to originate. For texts written in England, a subdivision between texts originating from before (Anglo-Saxon England) and after (Anglo-Norman England) the Norman Conquest has not been made in the database itself. Instead, users can search by Date of Composition to access texts from a particular period.
Date of Composition
This field gives the earliest possible date, a suggested date and the latest possible date of a text. The most recent scholarship is followed where possible and in particular informs the dates listed under the ‘suggested date’ heading. It should be noted that the suggested dates of composition of the original texts (i.e. not the dates of the manuscripts in which they are preserved) are in some instances highly contested.

Text Details

Where known, the name of the text’s author is included. In some cases of uncertainty a question mark follows this entry. If the author is unknown, this field contains ‘Anonymous’.
Short titles are given. Full bibliographic references may be found on the Bibliographies page of this website by clicking on ‘Primary Resources’. The conventions of a particular edition in rendering such divisions as chapter or line numbers for a text have been followed.
This field indicates the five earliest manuscripts in which a particular text is found, where five or more manuscripts exist. If the manuscript(s) from which the life is edited is not one of these five earliest, this is instead included as one of the five manuscripts.
Place of Composition
Place of composition follows established scholarship and either gives a specific place – where known – or a more general assumed area of composition (e.g. East Anglia, Mercia etc.).
BHL/DOE Number
For Latin texts, the BHL number is noted. For Old English texts, the number designations used in the Plan for the Dictionary of Old English and thus subsequently by the DOE are used. No such system is used for Medieval Irish or Medieval Welsh texts and this field is therefore left blank.

Conversion Detail

Some texts do not contain conversions but have been included in the database as this information has been deemed important to the understanding of how conversion is represented in Insular hagiography. If there are no conversion episodes in a text, the phrase ‘No conversions associated with this text’ appears after the Text Details.

Edition Reference
Textual editions do not use a standardised system of numbering texts, which means that there is an inevitable degree of inconsistency in the way data is input into this field. Chapter numbers are given wherever possible; however, in cases in which a text is subdivided differently, the format of the particular edition is followed. Thus, in some cases page and line number of the original text are listed instead. Where a text is divided into books and chapters, the books are given in Roman numerals and the chapters in Arabic numerals, e.g. I.3.
Conversion Certainty
Instances occur across the range of texts where the success of a conversion is not explicit. This field also only takes account of what a particular text says, regardless of whether other records suggest an alternative outcome.
This field gives the name of the person who is responsible for the conversion.
Sources for Conversion Episode
Where known, the sources for a conversion episode are listed here. For example, the conversion episode in the Lives of Senán are very likely based on a reference in Bethu Phátraic or The Tripartite Life of Patrick. In some cases, it is possible to determine the transmission history for a conversion episode when dealing with lives of the same saint. For example, Rhygyfarch's Vita S. Dauidis is clearly the source for the other lives concerning this saint. Such examples are only noted if this transmission history is relatively certain.
Convertee (specific information)
This field gives information about the person(s) who undergo conversion if specific information concerning their identity is given in the text. This can include the personal names of convertees or population names if a large group, i.e. ‘the English race’.
Convertee Description
Where the convertees are described as a ‘crowd’ or ‘people’ of some sort, but where no further details are given, it is assumed that the crowd comprises males and females and a range of ages. In such instances, the database entry is ‘mixed’.
This field notes the life stage of the convertee(s), where known.
Social Role
This field notes the social position of the convertee, where known.
Kin Group
Kin group follows the nomenclature of text itself, for instance Edwin is described as ‘Humbrian’ in the Anonymous Vita S. Gregorii.
Pre-conversion Nomenclature
‘Pre-conversion nomenclature’ captures the descriptors (in the original language) applied to a convertee before their conversion. Nouns and adjectives are rendered in the nominative. Phrases are also included in this field where applicable.
Post-conversion Nomenclature
‘Post-conversion nomenclature’ records instances in which, after a conversion, the convertee(s) is/are described explicitly in terms of a word or phrase that signifies the new Christian status (i.e. ‘believer’, ‘Christian’) in the original language. Nouns and adjectives are rendered in the nominative. Phrases are also included in this field where applicable.
Sacramental Context
This field takes account of the sacramental context of the conversion, noting whether any combination of baptism, anointing and the Eucharist is mentioned.

Miracles Table

Some texts contain conversion but do not contain miracles. If this is the case, the phrase ‘No miracle associated with this conversion’ appears in the Miracle Detail box.

Miracle Type
The miracles have been divided into the following classifications:
  • Weather event (e.g. calming storms)
  • Prophecy
  • Foreknowledge
  • Transformation
  • Transfixion
  • Punishment
  • Healing
  • Nature phenomenon (e.g. miracles involving animals)
  • Control of elements (e.g. walking on water)
  • Resurrection
  • Exorcism
  • Replenishment/abundance (e.g. miraculous catches of fish/drinking vessels never emptying)
  • Vision
  • Unspecified (e.g. instances where miracles are mentioned but not elucidated, e.g. ‘many miracles happened’)
Miracle Event
This field provides further details of the miracle event. Thus, a miracle of punishment in the ‘Miracle Type’ field is further defined in this field as a miracle of divine vengeance resulting in blinding.
The quotations field contains the first and final few words of a conversion miracle episode to allow the user to locate the episode easily within the specified edition. It should be noted that some conversion miracle episodes span several chapters in the given edition, and the ‘Edition Reference’ field in the Conversion Details draws the user’s attention to instances in which this is the case.
Posthumous Miracle
This field notes if the miracle was performed after the saint’s death but still attributed to this saint. If this is the case, this field will contain ‘Yes’, if not, it will simply contain ‘No’.
This field notes the person who performs the miracle and thus, most commonly, is the saint themselves.
This field is linked to the ‘Actor’ field and notes the gender of the main actor. Again, this is, in most instances, the saint.
Additional Actor
Here we have taken account of any other personae involved in the miracle (other than God). Thus, actors such as the Virgin Mary or other saints who are instrumental in or relevant to the performance of the miracle are noted here.
This field refers to something a saint uses during the performance of a miracle (e.g. a staff) or something that otherwise enables the enacting of the miracle (e.g. a miracle in the anonymous Vita S. Gregorii describes the transformation of bread into flesh, which enables the conversion of a Roman woman. In this instance, bread is listed in the object field).
This field is intended to capture specific geographical details. Some texts are specific about the location in which a miracle occurs (e.g. Rome), others are somewhat more vague (e.g. the territory of the South Saxons).
Topographical Feature
The ‘Topographical Feature’ field sometimes adds information to the ‘Location’ field, but also acts as a standalone field for certain records. Thus, a text may state that a miracle occurs in Rome (Location) in a church (Topographical Feature). Another text may state no particular location, but does record that a miracle takes place in a church.
Speech Act
This field notes if any sort of speech act is associated with the miracle taking place, such as prayer or a blessing.


1 See also D. H. Farmer, The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, 5th ed. rev. (New York, 2011).

2 R. Sharpe, Medieval Irish Saints’ Lives: An Introduction to Vitae Sanctorum Hiberniae (Oxford, 1991).

3 See D. Dumville and M. Lapidge, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: A Collaborative Edition. XVII: The Annals of St Neots with Vita Prima Sancti Neoti (Woodbridge, 1985), pp. lxxxvi-lxxxix.