The Life of St Martin by Sulpicius Severus was one of the formative works of Latin hagiography. Yet although written by a contemporary who knew Martin, it attracted immediate criticism. Why? This study seeks an explanation by placing Sulpicius works both in their intellectual context, and in the context of a church that was then undergoing radical transformation. It is thus both a study of Sulpicius, Martin, and their world, and at the same time an essay in the interpretation of hagiography.
This major book remains indispensible for all specialists in hagiography. Her perceptive, critical and discriminating approach to the narratives leaves us, finally, with a Martin who made a powerful impact on his hagiographer ... This rigorous and perceptive study study of Martin and Sulpicius has illuminated the crisis of conscience through which their society was passing. * R. A. Markus, Times Literary Supplement * What emerges are well-authenticated portraits of Martin and Sulpicius with a number of other important figures, such as Jerome and Priscillian, in the background. The setting is as interesting as the protagonists. Stancliffe provides clear perspectives on the nature of literary compostition in the late classical period, the rise of western monasticism, the church's triumph over paganism, and the mentalite of Sulpicius and his contemporaries. This book
must now rank as the foremost comprehensive study of St. Martin. It should also have a wider appeal as a model for the general practice of medieval studies. * Peter Brown, Speculum *