Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Heilagra meyja drápa, 30 [Vol. 7, 910-11]

[All]: Stanzas 30-2 celebrate S. Agnes, a Roman martyr who died at the age of thirteen, after refusing marriage to a young suitor and the undertaking of pagan rites. She was tortured and killed by being stabbed in the throat. A basilica was built on the site of her supposed remains c. 350AD and her name is mentioned in the traditional Canon of the Roman Mass. In Iceland her cult may have been introduced by Bishop Þorlákr (Cormack 1994, 18-21) but was not generally popular. Her feast day was adopted as a holy day of obligation in 1179 but removed in 1275 (Cormack 1994, 24). There are three fragmentary versions of a saga of S. Agnes in mss dating from C14-16th (Unger 1877, I, 15-22; Widding, Bekker-Nielsen and Shook 1963, 298; Foote 1962, 27; Cormack 1994, 75; Wolf 2003, 3-10, 153-4).


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