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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Mey 18VII

Kirsten Wolf (ed.) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Heilagra meyja drápa 18’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 903.

Anonymous PoemsHeilagra meyja drápa

Heimrinn norðr og heilög Róma
huggan fær af meyju skærri;
sjá var fyst í sætu lífi
svanni giftur heiðnum manni.
Valeriánum sjálf í sælu
Cécílía leiddi blessuð;
unni hann guði og jafnvel henni;
einn græðara lofuðu bæði.

Norðr heimrinn og heilög Róma fær huggan af skærri meyju; sjá svanni var í sætu lífi fyst giftur heiðnum manni. Blessuð Cécílía leiddi sjálf Valeriánum í sælu; hann unni guði og jafnvel henni; bæði lofuðu einn græðara.

The northern world and holy Rome receive comfort from a bright maiden; that woman was in her sweet life first married to a heathen man. The blessed Cecilia herself led Valerian to bliss; he loved God and her equally; both praised one Saviour.

Mss: 721(11v), 713(24)

Readings: [2] huggan: so 713, ‘hug[...]’ 721    [3] fyst: so 713, om. 721    [6] Cécílía: ‘Secilía’ 713    [7] jafnvel: so 713, ‘iafn’ with ‘uel’ added in left margin 721

Editions: Skj AII, 530, Skj BII, 586-7, Skald II, 324, NN §§2970D, F, 2974.

Notes: [All]: Stanzas 18-21 celebrate the virgin martyr Cecilia, a Roman Christian of noble family who was supposed to have converted her pagan husband-to-be, Valerian, to both Christianity and chastity on their wedding night. Valerian was martyred for his Christian faith and Cecilia was brought before the prefect, Almacius. She refused to participate in an act of idolatry and was condemned to be stifled to death in a bathroom of her own house. She did not die, however, so a soldier was sent to behead her. He struck three blows that failed to kill her and she lingered three more days before eventually dying. Her cult was first associated with a church in the Trastevere quarter of Rome, but spread to most parts of Western Europe in the Middle Ages. There are several versions of an ON saga of Cecilia, all from C14th or later in their present form (Unger 1877, I, 276-97; Widding, Bekker-Nielsen and Shook 1963, 305; Wolf 2003, 101-22, 171-4) and there is considerable evidence for the popularity of her cult in Icel. churches, probably from the C12th onwards (Cormack 1994, 88-9). Her popularity in ‘the northern world’ is specifically acknowledged in st. 18/1.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Unger, C. R., ed. 1877. Heilagra manna søgur. Fortællinger og legender om hellige mænd og kvinder. 2 vols. Christiania (Oslo): Bentzen.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. NN = Kock, Ernst Albin. 1923-44. Notationes Norrœnæ: Anteckningar till Edda och skaldediktning. Lunds Universitets årsskrift new ser. 1. 28 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  5. Cormack, Margaret. 1994. The Saints in Iceland: Their Veneration from the Conversion to 1400. Studia Hagiographica 78. Brussels: Société des Bollandistes.
  6. Wolf, Kirsten, ed. 2003. Heilagra meyja sögur. Íslenzk trúarrit 1. Reykjavík: Bókmenntafræðistofnun Háskóla Íslands.
  7. Internal references
  8. Not published: do not cite (RunVI)

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