The Saga of St. Jón of Hólar

The Saga of St. Jón of Hólar

by Margaret Cormack and Peter Foote

Translated by Margaret Cormack

Introduction by Peter Foote

224 pages, 6" x 9"

  • Paperback
  • 9780866986373
  • Published: November 2021



This volume contains a translation of the version of the Saga of St. Jón of Hólar that is probably closest to the first Latin vita. It is only the second saga of an Icelandic episcopal saint to appear in a modern translation in the present century. The volume consists of two parts, the first comprising a general introduction and a translation by Margaret Cormack. The second part provides a detailed scholarly analysis of the manuscripts, contents, style, and literary connections of the saga by the late Peter Foote, one of the foremost scholars of Old Norse and Icelandic literature. 

The Jóns saga was written in the early thirteenth century, nearly a century after the death of its protagonist, the first bishop of the diocese of Hólar in Northern Iceland. The author of the saga combined Latin learning with native folklore to produce a readable narrative that is contemporary with the earliest family and contemporary sagas. This text provides valuable insight into the religious life of ordinary Icelanders in the thirteenth century, and the introduction corrects common misconceptions about ecclesiastical history and the cult of saints in Iceland. It will be of value to scholars of medieval Icelandic literature, hagiography, and history.