Sanctus Andreas Slavlosiensis
by Haki Antonsson
In his legend St. Andreas (St. Anders) is associated with the reign of Valdemar II (1202-1241). Jakob Mosle (16th century), who copied the text from a medieval examplar, claims he lived around the turn of the thirteenth century. Thomas of Cantimpré in his Bonum universale de apibus composed between 1258 and 1263 refers to Anders, a Danish priest, in his version of the miraculous journey from Jerusalem (see below). There is indeed no evidence that attempts were made to secure an official recognition of Anders’s sanctity; celebration of his sanctity in an ecclesiastical setting appears to have been confined to his parish church of St. Peter in Slagelse.
The Legend of St. Andreas, De Sancto Andrea Presbitero Slavlosiensis, is the only source of evidence for the historical Anders. The legend lacks most of the usual component one associates with saints’ Lives. Most notably, nothing is said of his youth, translation of his relics and/or posthumous miracles. The episodes appear to have been drawn from oral tales about Anders that circulated in Slagelse and its surrounding area.
The legend is relatively short, ca. 800 words.
- GERTZ, M.CL. 1908-1912: VSD, Copenhagen, 410-18.
(Danish) OLRIK, H. 1894 (repr. 1968), Danske Helgernes Levned vol. 2, Copenhagen, 319-28.
Summary of contents
In a brief preamble the author expresses his wish to preserve for posterity some of the marvellous things relating to Anders. Amongst the most impressive of these events is Anders’s miraculous transportation from Jerusalem to Slagelse. Anders, along with twelve fellow pilgrims, had for some time been stranded in Jerusalem. On Easter Day an opportunity arose to set sail for the journey homewards but Anders wished to hear Mass and pray at the Lord’s sepulchre. Having fulfilled his wish and hearing that his fellow travellers have left for home, Anders falls asleep. He dreams that a horse appears before him which he mounts. Upon awakening Anders finds himself on a hill and is told that he is near Slagelse, and that it is Vespers on Easter Day. Thus we are told that on the same Easter Day Anders attended Mass in Jerusalem and celebrated Vespers in Slagelse. Anders then embarks on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela and on his return journey he visits the shrine of St. Olaf in Nidaros. Miraculously, he is able to accomplish this before his fellow pilgrims return from Jerusalem.
The second episode tells that when Valdemar Sejr heard of Anders’s miraculous transportation from Jerusalem the king offered to grant him two wishes. Anders chose a pasture near Slagelse and a stream for the use of the villagers. The third episode narrates how Anders provided hospitality to a cripple who was unable to attend church on account of his affliction. Anders touched his right hand and commanded him to rise up in the name of Christ. The cripple was immediately cured of his condition. In the final episode Anders asks a blind woman to ignite his bread-oven and as she fans the flame she recovers her sight. Fifteen lines of liturgy in honour of Anders follow this episode, including an antiphon that refers to his miraculous return from Jerusalem.
Purpose and audience
It should be noted that the dating of Jakob Mosle’s exemplar (see below) is uncertain and, accordingly, we can only speculate about the purpose behind its composition. The most obvious explanation is that St. Peter’s church in Slagelse, which we know had a chapel dedicated to him in the fifteenth century, wished to collect the materials relating to its most famous son in the one place.
Medieval reception and transmission
In the aforementioned Bonum universale de apibus a tale is recounted that parallels closely the first episode of the Legend (published by GERTZ 1908-1912, 417-18) Thomas of Cantimpré notes that he had heard the story from a Danish Dominican in Paris. If this information is taken at face value, it shows that stories, or a least a story, about Anders was being told in the mid-thirteenth century. However, the Legend’s version of Anders’s miraculous journey from Jerusalem differs from the tale told by Thomas of Cantimpré. For example, Thomas makes no mention of Anders’s further journeys to Santiago de Compostela and Nidaros while, after the fashion of Dominican preachers, he places particular emphasis on the story’s moral lesson. There is no indication that the versions are textually related. Thus it appears probable that they represent two variants of a widespread motif relating to the miraculous transportation of pilgrims, which became associated with Anders of Slagelse in the course of the thirteenth century.
The Legend of St. Anders was copied by a certain Jakob Mosle, chaplain at St. Anna’s chapel in St. Michael’s church, Slagelse, from a text (antiqua carta) he found in St. Peter’s Church. Jakob himself provides this information in an addendum to his transcript. GERTZ thought that Jakob had lived in the first half of the sixteenth century while OLRIK suggested he was active around the year 1500 (GERTZ 1908-1912, 411; OLRIK 1894, 322). Jakob’s original transcript is lost and we only have transcripts of the text from the eighteenth century. Two of those are found in Copenhagen, Royal Library, Add. 90 fol., and one, which GERTZ considers the best copy, in Copenhagen, AM 1049 4° (GERTZ 1908-1912, 411).
- GAD, T. 1961, Legenden i dansk middelalder, Copenhagen, 180-85.