Venantius Fortunatus

Venantius Honorius Fortunatus Clementianus (c. 540 in Valdobbiadene near Treviso, Italy, † at a 14 December 600-610 in Poitiers, France) was a poet and hagiographer Merovingian and Bishop of Poitiers.


Venantius has been called the last Roman poet of Late Antiquity ( Friedrich Leo ), but also as the first poet of the Middle Ages (Franz Brunhölzl ). Both have their permission, because the poet belongs to a period of transition. He received a solid classical training in Ravenna, the seat of the Eastern Roman governor in Italy, and was well acquainted with the ancient models, including Virgil, Horace, Martial, Paulinus of Nola and Prudentius. In the year 565, the last year of the reign of the emperor Justinian, he went on a pilgrimage to Tours in Gaul to the grave of Saint Martin, which he wanted to thank for his healing from her eye disease. He first crossed the Alps by Raetia, then to Mainz, Cologne and Trier, finally Metz, Verdun and Paris to Tours. On the way he found a hospitable reception at bishops and aristocrats, whom he thanked with occasional poems. In Metz, he wrote on the occasion of the wedding of the Austrasian king Sigebert I. with the Visigothic princess Brunechildis a wedding poem modeled after the ancient Epithalamien, which he opened the access to the secular and spiritual Frankish upper class. He managed to find numerous promoters, including Eufronius of Tours, who came from a senatorial race. Through his recommendation came Venantius 567 to Poitiers. There he entered into a personal relationship with the Thuringian princess Radegund, the King Chlothar I. widow, and her foster daughter Agnes, who had retired to a monastery. Venantius became a priest and chaplain of the monastery. In order Radegundis ' took Venantius, who enjoyed an excellent reputation now as Latin poets, several trips. Even in literature, he worked for them. He stood still in contact with many important contemporaries, especially for Bishop Gregory of Tours, who was also one of his sponsors. Towards the end of his life, probably around the year 600, was Bishop of Poitiers Venantius.

In later centuries, Venantius was revered as a saint. His feast day is day of his death, December 14; the year of death is unknown.


Venantius wrote an epic poem in four books on the St. Martin of Tours ( De Martini virtutibus Turonensis ), where he went out of the Vita sancti Martini of Sulpicius Severus and their epic editing by Paulinus of Périgueux heranzog. It is dedicated to Gregory of Tours, the production was inspired by Radegund. He also wrote seven saints in prose, including one on Hilary of Poitiers and about Radegundis, he posed as a saint after her death.

Of outstanding importance his eleven books Carmina miscellanea, liturgical hymns, elegies, Enkomia, epigrams, epitaphs, and various occasional poems are included. The latter include De navigio suo ( On his voyage ) from the year 588, that of a ride with the young Merovingian king Childebert II ( 570-595 ), the Mosel down to Koblenz and further down the Rhine is up to Andernach and people village and a counterpart offers to the famous poem Mosella of Ausonius. Among the hymns are registered, among other things recorded in the Roman Breviary Passion Pange lingua songs and Vexilla, which are among the still famous hymns of the Latin liturgy. The Pange lingua also served as Thomas Aquinas as the basis for his Eucharistic hymn Pange lingua same name. A special group is formed, the figure poems (II, 4; 5 II, V, 6) which are of central importance for the further development of the genus.

Delivered outside the collection of poems that are Marienlied also acquired in the Breviary Quem terra, Pontus, aethera, a long poem in praise of Mary (in Laudem sanctae Mariae ) and a lament about the demise of the Thuringian royal family, came from the Radegund ( De Excidio Thoringiae ).

Mixed in with the Carmina are various letters and two treatises in prose: an interpretation of the Lord's Prayer and an interpretation of the creed that continues in Rufinus of Aquileia.