The Lives of St Martha of Bethany

... in medieval French and Occitan← Back to saints

In the later centuries of the Middle Ages it was believed that Martha of Bethany, the Martha of the Gospels and sister to Mary Magdalene and Lazarus, had journeyed from the Holy Land to Provence. There, legend has it that she tamed an amphibious dragon known as the Tarasque and evangelized the people of Tarascon.

Below is a list of medieval French and Occitan versions of the story of Martha’s travels, classified initially by language and medium (i.e. verse/prose) and subsequently by source and approximate date of composition. Ranging from close translations of the main Latin biography of St Martha in circulation (the so-called ‘Pseudo-Marcilian version’) to Nicholas Bozon’s lively verse rendering of the Legenda aurea account, the journey undertaken by Martha’s story is as intriguing as the one it relates.

Transcriptions of each previously unpublished version will appear in due course. Use the buttons at the top to toggle between diplomatic and regularized editions.

Verse life in French

Jacobus of Voragine, Legenda aurea

Prose life in French, with verse interpolations

Pseudo-Marcilia

Prose lives in French

[A] Pseudo-Marcilia

[B] Jean de Mailly, Abbreviatio in gestis et miraculis sanctorum

[C] Vincent de Beauvais, Speculum historiale

[D] Jacobus of Voragine, Legenda aurea

Prose lives in Occitan

Jacobus of Voragine, Legenda aurea

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