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Jonas of Bobbio


Hagiographer; b. Susa, in Piedmont, c. 600; d. after 665. He entered the abbey of bobbio in 618, about three years after the death of the Irish missionary abbot, columban. Here Jonas served as secretary to abbots athala of bobbio (d. 626) and bertulf of bobbio (d.639). He also knew another companion of St. Columban, St. eustace of luxeuil. Jonas spent three years(639642) as a missionary with St. amandus in the north of France. From his writings it is evident that he traveled extensively; at the request of Clotar III he visited Chalonsur-Saône. After 650 Jonas seems never to have returned to Bobbio. In 652 and 653 he served temporarily as abbot of Saint-Amand-les-Eaux and was still alive in 665. Most of our information about Jonas comes from the autobiographical asides in his writings. Jonas's works include a life of Bishop vedast of arras, [Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum (Berlin 1826) 3:406413] and a life of abbot john of rÉomÉ (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum 3:505517). His principal work, a life of St. Columban, undertaken on orders from Bertulf, was completed only after the abbot's death (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum 4:61152). The first of its two books is an account of the founder based on information Jonas gathered in his travels and on interviews with those who knew the saint. The second book is primarily an account of St. Columban's successors: Athala and Bertulf at Bobbio, Eustace at luxeuil. As a hagiographer Jonas reflects the shortcomings of the age and the genre: disregard for chronology, preoccupation with the miraculous, and decadence in language and grammar. On the other hand, Jonas did make an effort to ascertain facts, and generally shows himself a reliable reporter.

Bibliography: h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. f. carbol, h. leclercq and h. i. marrou, 15 v. (Paris 190753) 7.2:263141. w. wattenbach Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen im Mittelalter. Vorzeit und Karolinger, Hefte 14, ed. w. levison and h. lÖwe (Weimar 195263) 1:133134.

[b. l. marthaler]

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