Books Features

New Medieval Books: The Life and Miracles of Saint Godric, Hermit of Finchale

The Life and Miracles of Saint Godric, Hermit of Finchale

Edited and translated by Margaret Coombe

Clarendon Press
ISBN: 978-0-19-964179-6

A new addition to the Oxford Medieval Texts series, The Life and Miracles of Saint Godric, Hermit of Finchale is a twelfth-century hagiographic account of a hermit who lived in northern England. Godric (c. 1065-1070 – 21 May 1170) was a merchant and ship captain before getting permission to live as a hermit at Finchale. He would then spend the next sixty years living there, gaining a reputation as a holy man.

The account of his life and miracles by Reginald of Durham is quite lengthy, with nearly 200 chapters. This edition and translation is over 1000 pages and also includes a detailed introduction as well as appendices in Latin of some other sources related to this text.


Excerpt from a letter by Reginald of Durham to the Bishop of Durham introducing the work:

We have written with a fine pen about the start of his glorious struggle, the course of his life and its end, as is fitting, we commenced the craftsmanship of the work which follows by dedicating it to your excellent name. For insomuch as the crown of such a son is a particular source of glory for you, you must apply your own approval and judgment in those things which are written about him in praise of God. In the following work we thought to be a worthy record of his holy and arduous life, both from what we have seen for ourselves and from what we have learned from his teaching, or found from our brothers, your sons, who were his contemporaries for some time, or what we have diligently discovered from equally reliable witnesses among Catholic laymen and have left it for you to examine and judge.


Who is this book for?

This will be of interest to those researching how saints were written about in the twelfth century, and aspects of Christian religious practice during this time in northern England. The many accounts of miracles also reveals much about the injuries and ailments people had during this time. This book is expensive, so it will mostly be purchased for libraries or experts in the field.

The author

Dr Margaret Coombe is a Tutor in British Medieval History and Director of Study Skills at Lady Margaret Hall of the University of Oxford.  Her research is on the religious history of the north of England, particularly saints of the twelfth century. Click here to view her university webpage.

See also this paper she gave in 2021: Researching archaeology in manuscripts: St Godric and Finchale

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