There is online a German language thesis, written by Karina Hochegger, which compares the earliest life of Brigit (Cogitosus, 650 CE) with the Vita Prima Sanctae Brigidae (750 CE). These texts have different aims and means for achieving their goals, as described in Lisa Bitel's excellent book, Landscape with Two Saints. For those German speakers amongst us, I link you to „Untersuchungen zu den ältesten Vitae sanctae Brigidae“. Below find her abstract.
This thesis shall provide a comprehensive and detailed analysis of the two oldest Lives of saint Brigid of Kildare, the “Life by Cogitosus” and the so-called “Vita Prima”. It will also illustrate the most important findings concerning the intentions of the presumed authors in writing these Lives. Dating of the Life by Cogitosus to the third quarter of the 7th century appears to be appropriate based on the reference that Muirchú makes to Cogitosus and his work. Cogitosus was likely an intellectual member within Kildare’s monastic society and he would have been able to write. His political aim in creating a Life of saint Brigid and establishing her as one of the main saints was to strengthen both the influence and power of the monastic centre and its parochia. The Life contains accounts of miracles describing the beauty and greatness of the church of Kildare, the sepulture of Brigid and her bishop Conleth, and the wonders that supposedly took place after Brigid’s death. This would inspire believers from across Ireland to make pilgrimages to Kildare. The reason for establishing the Life may have been the competition between the two main churches of Ireland during the 7th century, Kildare and Armagh. Both of them wanted to spread their power and their parochia. There is no proof of a direct relationship between Cogitosus and the Uí Dúnlainge, the ruling dynasty of Leinster at that time. But it is clear that the expansion of the sphere of control of Kildare was on behalf of the governance of Leinster. There are compositional and structural aspects which support McCone’s theory that the Vita Prima came after the Life by Cogitosus, in the middle of the 8th century. This is because passages from the Life by Cogitosus can be found at the end of Vita Prima and because of the friendly relationship between Patrick and Brigid, the two main saints of Armagh and Kildare. Despite the efforts of Vita prima’s author to create a thorough account of Brigid’s travels, there can be found inconsistencies throughout this Life. The author also neglected Kildare, and emphasized Brigid as a nomad saint; he intended to establish a national saint in Brigid by compiling miraculous stories in order to illustrate her nationwide political-ecclesiastic influence.
angestrebter akademischer Grad
Magistra der Philosophie (Mag. phil.)