Katherine Group: Religious Texts

Katherine Group is a group of five 13th century five Middle English works of devotional prose found together in manuscript Bodley 34. dating from c.1190-1225: Seinte Marherete, Seinte luliene, Seinte Katerine, Sawles Warde, and Hali Meiðhad.

They come from Herefordshire or Shropshire, and their common language is also, for the most part, shared with Ancrene Wisse: three of these texts appear with a version of it in a British Library manuscript. Their language, from a transitional period of English, is distinctive and interesting, and their style is lively and often colloquial, with vivid details of illustration.

The three saints’ lives are all concerned with heroic virgins who were frequently exalted in medieval writings: St Catherine of Alexandria, St Juliana of Nicomedia, and St Margaret of Antioch, who were all believed to have suffered from the persecutions of Diocletian in the first decade of the 4th century. The most celebrated English life of one of these saints is the Old English Juliana by Cynewulf.