Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus

Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus
Short Name: Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus
Full Name: Fortunatus, Venantius Honorius Clementianus, ca. 540-ca. 600
Birth Year: 540
Death Year: 600

Fortunatus, Venantius Honorius Clementianus, was born at Ceneda, near Treviso, about 530. At an early age he was converted to Christianity at Aquileia. Whilst a student at Ravenna he became almost blind, and recovered his sight, as he believed miraculously, by anointing his eyes with some oil taken from a lamp that burned before the altar of St. Martin of Tours, in a church in that town. His recovery induced him to make a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Martin, at Tours, in 565, and that pilgrimage resulted in his spending the rest of his life in Gaul. At Poitiers he formed a romantic, though purely platonic, attachment for Queen Rhadegunda, the daughter of Bertharius, king of the Thuringians, and the wife, though separated from him, of Lothair I., or Clotaire, king of Neustria. The reader is referred for further particulars of this part of the life of Fortunatus to Smith and Wace's Dictionary of Christian Biography, vol. ii. p. 552. It is sufficient to say here that under the influence of Rhadegunda, who at that time lived at Poitiers, where she had founded the convent of St. Croix, Fortunatus was ordained, and ultimately, after the death of Rhadegunda in 597, became bishop of Poitiers shortly before his own death in 609.

The writings, chiefly poetical, of Fortunatus, which are still extant, are very numerous and various in kind; including the liveliest Vers de Societé and the grandest hymns; while much that he is known to have written, including a volume of Hymns for all the Festivals of the Christian Year, is lost. Of what remains may be mentioned, The Life of St. Martin of Tours, his Patron Saint, in four books, containing 2245 hexameter lines. A complete list of his works will be found in the article mentioned above.
His contributions to hymnology must have been very considerable, as the name of his lost volume implies, but what remains to us of that character, as being certainly his work, does not comprise at most more than nine or ten compositions, and of some of these even his authorship is more than doubtful. His best known hymn is the famous "Vexilla Regis prodeunt," so familiar to us in our Church Hymnals in some English form or other, especially, perhaps, in Dr. Neale's translation, "The Royal Banners forward go." The next most important composition claimed for him is "Pange, lingua, gloriosi praelium certaminis," but there would seem to be little doubt according to Sirmond (Notis ad Epist. Sidon. Apollin. Lib. iii., Ep. 4), that it was more probably written by Claudianus Mamertus. Besides these, which are on the Passion, there are four hymns by Fortunatus for Christmas, one of which is given by Daniel, "Agnoscat omne saeculum," one for Lent, and one for Easter. Of "Lustra sex qui jam peregit," of which an imitation in English by Bishop. Mant, "See the destined day arise," is well-known, the authorship is by some attributed to Fortunatus, and by some to St. Ambrose.

The general character of the poetry of Venantius Fortunatus is by no means high, being distinguished neither for its classical, nor, with very rare exceptions, for its moral correctness. He represents the "last expiring effort of the Latin muse in Gaul," to retain something of the "old classical culture amid the advancing tide of barbarism." Whether we look at his style, or even his grammar and quantities, we find but too much that is open to criticism, whilst he often offends against good taste in the sentiments he enunciates. Occasionally, as we see in the "Vexilla Regis," he rises to a rugged grandeur in which he has few rivals, and some of his poems are by no means devoid of simplicity and pathos. But these are the exceptions and not the rule in his writings, and we know not how far he may have owed even these to the womanly instincts and gentler, purer influence of Rhadegunda. Thierry, in his Récits des Temps Mérovingiens, Récit 5, gives a lively sketch of Fortunatus, as in Archbishop Trench's words (Sacred Latin Poetry, 1874,p. 132), "A clever, frivolous, self-indulgent and vain character," an exaggerated character, probably, because one can hardly identify the author of "Vexilla Regis," in such a mere man of the world, or look at the writer of "Crux benedicta nitet, Dominus qua carne pependit" q.v., as being wholly devoid of the highest aspirations after things divine. A quarto edition of his Works was published in Rome in 1786. [Rev. Digby S. Wrangham, M.A.]

- John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)

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Fortunatus, V. H. C., p. 384, i. The best edition of his poems is F. Leo's edition of his Opera Poetica, Berlin, 1881 (Monumenta Germaniae, vol. iv.).

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, Appendix, Part II (1907)


Texts by Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus (59)sort iconAsInstances
Abroad the regal banners flyVenantius H. Fortunatus (Author)3
Lo, the fair beauty of the earth (English Hymnal)Venantius Honorius Fortunatus (Author)9
All the fair beauty of earth (Lutheran Book of Worship)Venantius Fortunatus, c. 530-609 (Author)6
All the fair beauty of earth (Composite translation)Venantius Fortunatus, c. 530-609 (Author)7
As royal banners are unfurledVenantius Fortunatus (540?-600?) (Author)3
Behold, o man, behold the glorious woodVenantius H. Fortunatus (Author)2
Behold the royal cross on highVenantius H. Fortunatus (Author)3
Behold the royal ensigns flyVenantius H. Fortunatus (Author)5
Bright and in likeness of fireVenantius Honorius Fortunatus, 530-609 (Author)2
Christ, who was nailed to the crossVenantius Honorius Fortunatus (Author)2
Crux fidelis, inter omnesVenantius H. Fortunatus (Author)4
Faithful cross, above all othersVenantius Honorius Fortunatus (540-600?) (Author)2
Faithful cross, O tree all beauteousVenantius H. Fortunatus (Author)3
Forth comes the standard of the KingVenantius H. Fortunatus (Author)7
Forth flames the standard of our KingVenantius H. Fortunatus (Author)3
Full thirty years were freely spentVenantius H. Fortunatus (Author)2
Hail, day of days, in peals of praiseVenantius Forunatus (Author)1
Hail! festal day, to endless ages knownVenantius Fortunatus, c. 530-609 (Author)7
Lo, the fair beauty of earthVenantius H. Fortunatus (Author)7
Hallow we with praise the dayVenantius Fortunatus (Author)2
He who was nailed to the crossVenantius Honorius Fortunatus, 540?-600? (Author)5
Hoje nos lembramos da ressurreiçãoVenantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus, c. 530-609 (Author)2
How beauteous on the mountainsVenantius H. Fortunatus (Author)1
Lo, in the likeness of fireVenantius Honorius Fortunatus, 540?-600? (Author)2
Lo, in the likeness of the fireVenantius Fortunatus, c. 530-609 (Author (sts. 1, 3 and refrain))2
Lo, the fair beauty of earth (New English Hymnal)Venantius Fortunatus, 530-609 (Author)3
Lo, the fair beauty of earth (Dearmer)Venantius Fortunatus, 530-609 (Author)3
O come, Creator Spirit, come And make within our souls thy homeVenantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus (Author)2
O faithful cross, O noblest treeVenantius H. Fortunatus (Author)5
O glorious Maid, exalted farVenantius Fortunatus, 530-609 (Author)1
O Mary, mother full of graceVenantius H. Fortunatus (Author)2
Pange, lingua, gloriosi, pr'lium [lauream] certaminisVenantius H. Fortunatus (Author)6
Praise the Savior Now and ever (Wallin)Venantius Honorius Fortunatus (Author)14
Praise the Savior, now and ever (Service Book and Hymnal)Venantius Honorius Fortunatus, 530-609 (Author)2
See how the grace of the worldVenantius Honorious Fortunatus, c. 530-609 (Author)2
See the destined day arise!Venantius Fortunatus, c. 530-609 (Author)24
See, through his holy handsVenantius H. Fortunatus (Author)4
Sing, my tongue, the ageless storyVenantius H. Fortunatus (Author)3
Sing, my tongue, the glorious battleVenantius Honorius Fortunatus (Author)56
Sing, my tongue, the hymn of gloryVenatius Fortunatus, c. 530-609 (Author (verses))3
Sing, my tongue, the Savior's glory, Tell his triumph far and wideVenantius Fortunatus (Author)18
Sing, my tongue, the Savior's triumphVenantius H. Fortunatus (Author)2
Sing, my tongue, the song of triumphVenantius Fortunatus, c. 530-609 (Author)4
Sing, O my tongue, devoutly singVenantius H. Fortunatus (Author)6
So holy is this day of daysVenantius H. Fortunatus (Author)2
The blessed cross shines now to us where once the Savior bledV. Fortunatus (Author)2
The flaming banners of our KingVenantius Honorius Fortunatus (Author)5
The God whom earth and sea and skyVenantius Fortunatus (540?-600?) (Author (attributed to))23
The Lord, whom earth and sea and skyVenantius Fortunatus, 530-609 (Author)2
The royal banner floats on highVenantius H. Fortunatus (Author)3
The royal banner is unfurledVenantius H. Fortunatus (Author)16
Royal banners forward flyVenantius Fortunatus, Bishop of Poitiers (@530-569) (Author)2
The Royal Banners forward goVenantius Fortunatus, 530-609 (Author)92
The royal standard forward goesFortunatus, d. 569 (Author)5
The thirsty years have all been passedVenantius H. Fortunatus (Author)2
Thirty years among us dwellingVenantius H. Fortunatus (Author)2
Upp, min tunga, att lofsjungaVenantius H. Fortunatus (Author)7
Vexilla regis prodeuntVenantius H. Fortunatus (Author)15
Welcome, happy morning! age to age shall say:Venantius Fortunatus, c. 530-609 (Author)226



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