Ásdís Egilsdóttir

Locality and (inter)nationality: Translations and the Medieval Saint.

A saint‘s cult usually begins with his/her translatio. In Christian culture, translatio means exhuming and moving of holy relics or holy objects from one locality to another. During the Middle Ages, three Icelandic saints were venerated. The lives of the Icelandic born saints were first written in Latin and then translated. Apart from remnants of the vita of St Þorlákr, the Latin texts are now lost. We do not know how closely the preserved Icelandic texts resemble their Latin originals, if the translations were word for word or free adaptions. We usually define Þorláks saga and Jóns saga, and the hagiographic Guðmundar sögur as Icelandic texts but they are basically translations. The texts include translated passages and use translations as models. Several known Icelandic hagiographers were also translators. In the lives of the Icelandic saints, we find historical persons, translated into the traditional language of hagiography, and a universal model translated into the Icelandic language and scenery. The Icelandic hagiographers are no less interested in the universaliy than locality. Their purpose to show that they were universal, and consequently real saints.