St. William

St. William of Gellone (755-812) was Count of Toulouse and an advisor to Charlemagne’s son Louis. He is recognized as a saint by both the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. His feast is celebrated on May 28.

St. William is also the hero of one of the earliest and most fully-developed cycles of chansons de geste, the late eleventh century Geste de Guillaume d’Orange. One of the poems of this cycle, the Moniage Guillaume or “Monkhood of William,” concerns the end of St. William’s life: his tonsuring at Aniane, his founding of the monastery of Gellone, and several of his miracles.

Two versions of the Moniage Guillaume exist, but unfortunately neither version is available in English. For Christmas 2013, I translated the shorter version as a gift for my husband, whose patron saint is St. William.  For help with the Old French I owe many thanks to my mother, a medieval historian; all errors of translation are my own.