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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: October 2013

9 - A Twelfth-Century Indulgence Granted by an Irish Bishop at Bath Priory


A cartulary of the Benedictine cathedral priory of Bath, which on the evidence of its script has been dated to around the mid-twelfth century, contains an indulgence granted by Marcus Cluanensis episcopus to the ‘truly penitent’ who with alms and prayers would visit the church at Bath on the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (14 September). The text, which is printed in Appendix 1,2 is preceded in the cartulary by similar indulgences from Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury (1138–61), and Robert, bishop of Bath (1136–66), and followed by one from Nicholas, bishop of Llandaff (1148–83). As is usual in texts of indulgences, none contains a witness-list and this makes dating difficult, with the added consequence in the case of Marcus that his very identity remains obscure. The four indulgences evidently form a series, as in each the period of remission is twenty days and is linked to the celebration of the same feast. However, there are also differences in the wording of the four texts which may indicate that they were not necessarily issued on the same occasion. The indulgence of Robert, bishop of Bath, recorded that he had consecrated a cross in the cathedral church on the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, and it was the acquisition of this new cross which appears to have occasioned the indulgences. It is conceivable that Robert may have been assisted at the consecration ceremony by one or more of the other bishops who also granted indulgences.