Vita Radbodi /The life of St.Radboud

introduced, edited and translated,
 by Peter Nissen and Vincent Hunink
Radboud University, Nijmegen 2004

[bilingual edition Latin-English]

As of September, 2004 the Catholic University of Nijmegen has changed its name to Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen. Saint  Radboud is mainly known from some early sources, notably a Latin hagiography from the 10th century. On the occasion of the change of names, this Latin life has been edited with an English translation. This is the first version of the text into English.

The book (60 pages) has been edited by Peter Nissen, professor of church history, and Vincent Hunink, lecturer in Latin and Christian Latin, both at the Radboud University Nijmegen. For those who master the Dutch language, the original edition with Latin text and Dutch introduction and translation is available as from September, 6th 2004. 

This English version of the book has been published by the Radboud University exclusively for its relations abroad (November 2004). Anyone who is interested, may contact me.




Soon his earliest years were over and his parents had him taught how to read and write. He passed his childhood with his uncle, bishop Gunther of the church of Cologne. Thus the blossom of his youth was tamed by the strict regimen of the school. But as this bishop fared less well, Radboud’s soul did not suffer any loss, so we may believe. At the suggestion of his parents and by common consent (for he seemed irradiated by God’s grace and was loved by all), the highly gifted boy went to the court of Charles, king of the Franks and also son of the emperor Louis. This was not due to eagerness for courtly honour, but because at the time the sevenfold philosophy was particularly practiced within the walls of the royal palace.

This training school was taken care of by the philosopher Manno, who kept it on the short rein of wisdom. The young saint, being highly motivated and inquisitive, did not move from his side. As his companions and fellows who shared this life there he had Stephen and Mancio, his superiors in age, though not in motivation. Soon a secret, moral rivalry arose among them: who could outdo the other, not in searching for honour and glory, but in showing humility, not in the spines of jealousy, but in feelings of friendship and dedication to reading. Their merits were surpassed by Radboud, but not long afterwards they both obtained an episcopal see, Stephen in the church of Tongeren, Mancio in Chalon-sur-Saône.

Like a bee, this venerable young man dived into the flowers of the high arts, without ever losing the flavour of the sweetness he tasted, getting intoxicated through the nectar of heavenly dew. He particularly applied himself to the threefold philosophy, until he was nursed at the twin breasts of wisdom to such an extent that he excelled among all through his great knowledge.

With these activities he managed to overcome the years of his youth through mental strength, mortifying his rebellious body with the salt of austerity, disparaging wordly affairs by comparison with heavenly affairs, putting his heart and soul to spiritual enjoyments, being determined to keep his distance from all that is transitory. Already at an early age, he possessed character of an old man: he did not let himself be trapped by any temptation and wanted to please only God. Night and day he spent his time to spiritual banquets, thereby shaping in himself the traits he was to put into practice later on.

This sweet-scented smell did not escape the notice of His Majesty. The more Radboud exerted himself to remain hidden, all the more the people extolled his name all over the world, whether he wanted or not. For he flourished like a palm tree and grew like a cedar in Lebanon in the house of the Lord. On account of his high moral qualities he was esteemed by the king, honoured by the highest rulers, and well-liked by the people, for he was beloved by God.

Peter Nissen presents a copy of the book to pope John Paul II during a visit of the Vatican (early 2005)



compte rendu par  Fr. D e   V r i e n d t  

in: Analecta Bollandiana 125, 2007, (442-)443

(...) Dès lors, si la présente édition ne manque pas de soin (les A. indiquent notamment les variantes de l'édition de Surius [1575]), on aura deviné qu'elle n'atteste pas de grandes divergences avec les précédentes. L'apport des traductions, assez littéraires - la toute première en anglais, la prmière intégrale en néerlandais - se révèle en revanche nettement plus substantiel. Cette plaquette, maniable et élégante, ne renouvelle donc pas fondamentalement nos connaissances sur le prélat carolingien, mais rendra néanmoins d'indéniables services et fera date dans l'historiographie du saint.'




latest changes here: 17-09-2017






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