John the Deacon, “Life of St Nicholas” – now online in English

I have finally completed my translation of the “Life of St Nicholas of Myra” by John the Deacon (BHL 6104, 6105, 6106 etc).  Written around 880 AD, it is the foundation text for the entire western tradition of legends about St Nicholas.  There are no critical editions of the Latin, and all of the early modern editions are low quality, or worse, or worse.

I have collated a bunch of the earliest manuscripts accessible to me, and established a reasonably reliable text.  I have included the collation in the footnotes.  I have also collated and translated the variant version of the legend of the Three Generals (a.k.a. “Stratilates”) found in one of the early editions and almost nowhere else.

I have also looked at the Bibliographia Hagiographia Latina (BHL) entries for St Nicholas, and pointed out various errors.

Here are the files:

I also include two working files which might be useful to those poking at the Latin text.  Most people should ignore these.  They are very rough.  If you need them, here they are.

I have uploaded the same files to here.

As usual, I make all this material public domain.  Use it for whatever purpose you like, personal, educational or commercial.

I first attempted a translation in 2018, but I started to work seriously on it only in 2019. It’s been four hard years of work.  The project kept growing in size, and all of it was fascinating.  In the end I have decided to stop where I am, and do no more.  So here it is!


7 thoughts on “John the Deacon, “Life of St Nicholas” – now online in English

  1. Thank you, Roger, for translating and making available to us this information about the origin of the legends of St. Nicholas! This will be a valuable contribution to our knowledge. May your efforts be rewarded!

  2. Thank you for following the principle of “freely you have received, freely give.” Of course, you did invest a lot of time into this, but even that time is a gift from God. So may God bless you for your labors.

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